Antonio Salieri

Antonio Salieri (1750 -1825) was an Italian classical composer, conductor, and teacher. He was born in Legnago, south of Verona, in the Republic of Venice, and spent his adult life and career as a subject of the Habsburg Monarchy.

Salieri was a pivotal figure in the development of late 18th-century opera. As a student of Florian Leopold Gassmann, and a protégé of Christoph Willibald Gluck, Salieri was a cosmopolitan composer who wrote operas in three languages. Salieri helped to develop and shape many of the features of operatic compositional vocabulary, and his music was a powerful influence on contemporary composers.

Appointed the director of the Italian opera by the Habsburg court, a post he held from 1774 until 1792, Salieri dominated Italian-language opera in Vienna. During his career he also spent time writing works for opera houses in Paris, Rome, and Venice, and his dramatic works were widely performed throughout Europe during his lifetime. As the Austrian imperial Kapellmeister from 1788 to 1824, he was responsible for music at the court chapel and attached school. Even as his works dropped from performance, and he wrote no new operas after 1804, he still remained one of the most important and sought-after teachers of his generation, and his influence was felt in every aspect of Vienna’s musical life. Franz Liszt, Franz Schubert, and Ludwig van Beethoven were among the most famous of his pupils.

Salieri’s music slowly disappeared from the repertoire between 1800 and 1868 and was rarely heard after that period until the revival of his fame in the late 20th century. This revival was due to the dramatic and highly fictionalized depiction of Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus (1979) and its 1984 film version. The death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1791 at the age of 35 was followed by rumours that he and Salieri had been bitter rivals, and that Salieri had poisoned the younger composer, yet it is likely that they were, at least, mutually respectful peers.

Composer full Name: Antonio Salieri
Date of Birth:  18 August 1750
Date of Death: 07 May 1825
Nationality: ?? Italian
Period/Era/Style: Classical
Biography: Life and career

Playlists: 

Opera Overtures
Orchestral Works
Concertante
Chamber Works
Choral Works
Scene from “Amadeus”

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Roger Nixon

Roger Nixon (1921 – 2009) was an American composer, musician, and professor of music. He wrote over 60 compositions for orchestra, band, choir and opera. Nixon received multiple awards and honors for his works, many of which contain a feel of the rhythms and dances of the early settlers of his native state of California.

Composer full Name: Roger Alfred Nixon
Date of Birth: August 8, 1921
Date of Death: October 13, 2009
Nationality: American
Period/Era/Style: The 20th century
Biography: Nixon was born and raised in California’s Central Valley towns of Tulare and Modesto. Nixon attended Modesto Junior College from 1938–1940 where he studied clarinet with Frank Mancini, formerly of John Philip Sousa’s band. He continued his studies at UC Berkeley, majoring in composition and receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1941. His studies were then interrupted by almost four years of active duty in the Navy during World War II, serving as the commanding officer of an LCMR in the Atlantic.

Following the war Nixon returned to UC Berkeley, first receiving a M.A. degree and later a Ph.D. His primary teacher was Roger Sessions. He also studied with Arthur Bliss, Ernest Bloch, Charles Cushing, and Frederick Jacobi. In the summer of 1948, he studied privately with Arnold Schoenberg.

From 1951 to 1959, Nixon was on the music faculty at Modesto Junior College. He was then appointed to the faculty at San Francisco State College, now San Francisco State University, in 1960 and began a long association with the Symphonic Band, which premiered many of his works. Most of Nixon’s works are for band, but he has also composed for orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo piano, choral ensembles, as well as song cycles and an opera. His most popular and most-performed work is Fiesta del Pacifico, a piece for concert band.

Nixon received several awards including a Phelan Award, the Neil A. Kjos Memorial Award, and five grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was elected to the American Bandmasters Association in 1973, the same year he won the association’s Ostwald Award for his composition Festival Fanfare March. In 1997, Nixon was honored by the Texas Bandmasters Association as a Heritage American Composer. At his death, he was Professor Emeritus of Music at San Francisco State University.

His students at San Francisco State University include Kent Nagano.

Nixon died on October 13, 2009, from complications from leukemia at Mills Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame, California.


Playlists: 

Concert Band Works
Concertante Works

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Arthur Bliss

Arthur Bliss (1891-1975) was an English composer and conductor.

Composer full Name: Sir Arthur Edward Drummond Bliss
Date of Birth: 02 August 1891
Date of Death: 27 March 1975
Nationality: ??????? English
Period/Era/Style: 20th Century

Bliss’s musical training was cut short by the First World War, in which he served with distinction in the army. In the post-war years he quickly became known as an unconventional and modernist composer, but within the decade he began to display a more traditional and romantic side in his music. In the 1920s and 1930s he composed extensively not only for the concert hall, but also for films and ballet.

In the Second World War, Bliss returned to England from the US to work for the BBC and became its director of music. After the war he resumed his work as a composer, and was appointed Master of the Queen’s Music.

In Bliss’s later years, his work was respected but was thought old-fashioned, and it was eclipsed by the music of younger colleagues such as William Walton and Benjamin Britten. Since his death, his compositions have been well represented on record, and many of his better-known works remain in the repertoire of British orchestras.

BiographyEarly years: Bliss was born in Barnes, a London suburb, the eldest of three sons of Francis Edward Bliss (1847–1930), a businessman from Massachusetts, and his second wife, Agnes Kennard née Davis (1858–1895). Agnes Bliss died in 1895, and the boys were brought up by their father, who instilled in them a love for the arts. Bliss was educated at Bilton Grange preparatory school, Rugby and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he studied classics, but also took lessons in music from Charles Wood. Other influences on him during his Cambridge days were Edward Elgar, whose music made a lasting impression on him, and E.J. Dent.

Bliss graduated in classics and music in 1913 and then studied at the Royal College of Music in London for a year. At the RCM he found his composition tutor, Sir Charles Stanford, of little help to him, but found inspiration from Ralph Vaughan Williamsand Gustav Holst and his fellow-students, Herbert Howells, Eugene Goossens and Arthur Benjamin. In his brief time at the college he got to know the music of the Second Viennese School and the repertory of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, with music by modern composers such as Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky.

When the First World War broke out, Bliss joined the army, and fought in France as an officer in the Royal Fusiliers until 1917 and then in the Grenadier Guards for the rest of the war. His bravery earned him a mention in despatches, and he was twice wounded and once gassed.

His younger brother Kennard was killed in the war, and his death affected Bliss deeply. The music scholar Byron Adams writes, “Despite the apparent heartiness and equilibrium of the composer’s public persona, the emotional wounds inflicted by the war were deep and lasting.” In 1918, Bliss converted to Roman Catholicism.

Early compositions   |   1940s   |   Later years


Playlists: 

Piano Works
Chamber Works
Orchestral Works
Concertante
Vocal, Choral & Opera Works
Ballet & Incidental Music
Soundtrack / Film Music
Fanfares & Brass Ensambles

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Benedetto Marcello

Benedetto Marcello (1686 – 1739) was an Italian composer, writer, advocate, magistrate, and teacher. Benedetto was the brother of Alessandro Marcello, also a notable composer.

Composer full Name: Benedetto Giacomo Marcello
Date of Birth: 31 July or 1 August 1686
Date of Death: 24 July 1739
Nationality: Italian
Period/Era/Style: Late Baroque & Early Gelante
Biography: Born in Venice, Benedetto Marcello was a member of a noble family and his compositions are frequently referred to as Patrizio Veneto. Although he was a music student of Antonio Lotti and Francesco Gasparini, his father wanted Benedetto to devote himself to law. Benedetto managed to combine a life in law and public service with one in music. In 1711 he was appointed a member of the Council of Forty (in Venice’s central government), and in 1730 he went to Pola as Provveditore (district governor). Due to his health having been “impaired by the climate” of Istria, Marcello retired after eight years in the capacity of Camerlengo to Brescia where he died of tuberculosis in 1739.

Benedetto Marcello was the brother of Alessandro Marcello, also a notable composer. On 20 May 1728 Benedetto Marcello married his singing student Rosanna Scalfiin a secret ceremony. However, as a nobleman his marriage to a commoner was unlawful and after Marcello’s death the marriage was declared null by the state. Rosanna was unable to inherit his estate, and filed suit in 1742 against Benedetto’s brother Alessandro Marcello, seeking financial support.


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Keyboard Works
Chamber Works
Concertante
Vocal & Choral Works

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Enrique Granados

Enrique Granados (1867-1916) was a Spanish pianist and composer of classical music. His music is in a uniquely Spanish style and, as such, is representative of musical nationalism.

Composer full Name: Enrique Granados Campiña
Date of Birth: 27 July 1867
Date of Death: 24 March 1916
Nationality: Spanish
Period/Era/Style: 20th Century – Nationalism
Biography: Enrique Granados Campiña was born in Lleida, Spain, the son of Calixto Granados, a Spanish army captain, and Enriqueta Campiña. As a young man he studied piano in Barcelona, where his teachers included Francisco Jurnet and Joan Baptista Pujol. In 1887 he went to Paris to study. He was unable to become a student at the Paris Conservatoire, but he was able to take private lessons with a conservatoire professor, Charles-Wilfrid de Bériot, whose mother, the soprano Maria Malibran, was of Spanish ancestry. Bériot insisted on extreme refinement in tone production, which strongly influenced Granados’s own teaching of pedal technique. He also fostered Granados’s abilities in improvisation. Just as important were his studies with Felip Pedrell. He returned to Barcelona in 1889. His first successes were at the end of the 1890s, with the opera María del Carmen, which attracted the attention of King Alfonso XIII.

In 1911 Granados premiered his suite for piano Goyescas, which became his most famous work. It is a set of six pieces based on paintings of Francisco Goya. Such was the success of this work that he was encouraged to expand it. He wrote an opera based on the subject in 1914, but the outbreak of World War I forced the European premiere to be canceled. It was performed for the first time in New York City on 28 January 1916, and was very well received. Shortly afterwards, he was invited to perform a piano recital for President Woodrow Wilson. Prior to leaving New York, Granados also made live-recorded player piano music rolls for the New-York-based Aeolian Company’s “Duo-Art” system, all of which survive today and can be heard – his very last recordings.

The delay incurred by accepting the recital invitation caused him to miss his boat back to Spain. Instead, he took a ship to England, where he boarded the passenger ferry SS Sussex for Dieppe, France. On the way across the English Channel, the Sussex was torpedoed by a German U-boat, as part of the German World War I policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. In a failed attempt to save his wife Amparo, whom he saw flailing about in the water some distance away, Granados jumped out of his lifeboat and drowned. However, the ship broke in two parts and only one sank (along with 80 passengers). Ironically, the part of the ship that contained his cabin did not sink and was towed to port, with most of the passengers, except for Granados and his wife, on board. Granados and his wife left six children: Eduard (a musician), Solita, Enrique (a swimming champion), Víctor, Natalia, and Francisco.

The personal papers of Enrique Granados are preserved in, among other institutions, the National Library of Catalonia.

 

Playlists: 

Opera Overtures, Highlights & Incidental Music
Orchestral Works
Chamber Works
Piano Works

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John Field

John Field (1782-1837) was an Irish pianist, composer, and teacher. He was born in Dublin into a musical family, and received his early education there, in particular with the immigrant Tommaso Giordani. The Fields soon moved to London, where Field studied under Muzio Clementi. Under his tutelage, Field quickly became a famous and sought-after concert pianist. Together, master and pupil visited Paris, Vienna, and St. Petersburg. Ambiguity surrounds Field’s decision to remain in the former Russian capital, but it is likely that Field acted as a sales representative for the Clementi Pianos. Field is best known as the inventor of the nocturne, but there is evidence to suggest that this is a posthumous accolade.

Field was very highly regarded by his contemporaries and his playing and compositions influenced many major composers, including Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt. Although little is known of Field in Russia, he undoubtedly contributed substantially to concerts and teaching, and to the development of the Russian piano school.

Composer full Name: John Field
Date of Birth: 26 July 1782 [?], baptised 5 September 1782
Date of Death: 23 January 1837
Nationality: ?? Irish
Period/Era/Style: Classical/Romantic Transition

Biography: 1782–-1801: Early life   |   1802–1829: Settling in Russia   |   1830–1837: Last years and death


Playlists: 

Solo Piano Works
Concertante

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Franz Xaver Mozart

Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart (1791-1844), was the youngest child of six born to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his wife Constanze. He was the younger of his parents’ two surviving children. He was a composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher from the late classical period whose musical style was of an early Romanticism, heavily influenced by his father’s mature style.

Composer full Name: Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart, also known as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jr.
Date of Birth: 26 July 1791
Date of Death: 29 July 1844
Nationality: Austrian
Period/Era/Style: Classical/Romantic Transition
Biography: Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart was born in Vienna, five months before his father’s death. Although he was baptized Franz Xaver Mozart, from birth on he was always called Wolfgang by his family. He received excellent musical instruction from Antonio Salieri and Johann Nepomuk Hummel, and studied composition with Johann Georg Albrechtsberger and Sigismund von Neukomm. He learned to play both the piano and violin. Like his father, he started to compose at an early age. “In April 1805, the thirteen-year-old Wolfgang Mozart made his debut in Vienna in a concert in the Theater an der Wien.”

Wolfgang became a professional musician and enjoyed moderate success both as a teacher and a performer. Unlike his father, he was introverted and given to self-deprecation. He constantly underrated his talent and feared that whatever he produced would be compared with what his father had done.

Needing money, in 1808 he travelled to Lemberg (now Lviv), where he gave music lessons to the daughters of the Polish count Wiktor Baworowski. Although the pay was good, Franz felt lonely in the town of Pidkamin, near Rohatyn, so in 1809 he accepted an offer from the imperial chamberlain, Count von Janiszewski, to teach his daughters music in the town of Burshtyn. Besides teaching, he gave local concerts, playing his own and his father’s pieces. These concerts introduced him to the important people in Galicia.

After two years in Burshtyn he moved to Lemberg where he spent more than 20 years teaching (with students including Julie von Webenau, née Baroni-Cavalcabò) and giving concerts. Between 1826 and 1829 he conducted the choir of Saint Cecilia which consisted of 400 amateur singers. In 1826 he conducted his father’s Requiem during a concert at the Greek Catholic cathedral of St. George. From this choir he created the musical brotherhood of Saint Cecilia and thus the first school of music in Lemberg. He did not give up performing and in the years 1819 to 1821 traveled throughout Europe. In 1819 he gave concerts in Warsaw, Elbing and Danzig (Gdańsk).

In the 1820s Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart was one of 50 composers to write a variation on a theme of Anton Diabelli for part II of the Vaterländischer Künstlerverein (see featured page). Part I was devoted to the 33 variations supplied by Beethoven which have gained an independent identity as his Diabelli Variations Op. 120.

In 1838 Mozart left for Vienna, and then for Salzburg, where he was appointed as the Kapellmeister of the Mozarteum. From 1841 he taught the pianist Ernst Pauer. Mozart died from stomach cancer on 29 July 1844 in the town of Karlsbad (now Karlovy Vary) where he was buried.

He never married nor did he have any children. His will was executed by Josephine de Baroni-Cavalcabò, the dedicatee of his cello sonata and a longtime patroness. The shadow of his father loomed large over him even in death. The following epitaph was etched on his tombstone: “May the name of his father be his epitaph, as his veneration for him was the essence of his life.”


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Concertante
Orchestral Works
Chamber Works
Piano Works
Choral & Vocal Works

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Ernest Bloch

Ernest Bloch (1880-1959) was a Swiss-born American composer. Bloch was a pre-eminent artist in his day and left a lasting legacy. He is recognised as one of the greatest Swiss composers in history. As well as producing musical scores, Bloch had an academic career that culminated in his recognition as Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley in 1952.

Composer full Name: Ernest Bloch
Date of Birth: July 24, 1880
Date of Death: July 15, 1959
Nationality: American (Swiss-born)
Period/Era/Style: 20th Century
Biography: Bloch was born in Geneva on July 24, 1880 to Jewish parents. He began playing the violin at age 9. He began composing soon after. He studied music at the conservatory in Brussels, where his teachers included the celebrated Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. He then travelled around Europe, moving to Germany (where he studied composition from 1900–1901 with Iwan Knorr at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt), on to Paris in 1903 and back to Geneva before settling in the United States in 1916, taking US citizenship in 1924. He held several teaching appointments in the USA with George Antheil, Frederick Jacobi, Quincy Porter, Bernard Rogers, and Roger Sessions among his pupils. See: List of music students by teacher: A to B#Ernest Bloch.

In 1917, Bloch became the first teacher of composition at Mannes School of Music, a post he held for three years. In December 1920 he was appointed the first Musical Director of the newly formed Cleveland Institute of Music, a post he held until 1925. Following this he was director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music until 1930. He spent most of the following decade in Switzerland where he composed his Avodath Hakodesh (“Sacred Service”) before returning to the USA in 1939.

In 1941, Bloch moved to the small coastal community of Agate Beach, Oregon and lived there the rest of his life. He taught and lectured (mostly summers) at the University of California, Berkeley until 1951. In 1952 he is named “Professeur Eméritus de l’Université de Berkeley,” even though he was not a full-time professor.

He died on July 15, 1959 in Portland, Oregon, of cancer at the age of 78. In keeping with a special tradition, Lucienne Bloch and her husband, Steve Dimitroff, prepared several death masks of Ernest Bloch. This once-common practice was usually undertaken to create a memento or portrait of the deceased, but it is unusual for an immediate family member to make the death mask. The Center for Creative Photography and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music each have a copy of Bloch’s death mask. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered near his home in Agate Beach.

     Family   Photography   Legacy


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Orchestral Works
Concertante
Chamber Works
Piano Works
Vocal/Choral Works

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Adolphe Adam

Adolphe Adam (1803-1856) was a French composer and music critic. A prolific composer of operas and ballets, he is best known today for his ballets Giselle (1841) and Le corsaire (1856, his last work), his operas Le postillon de Lonjumeau (1836), Le toréador (1849) and Si j’étais roi (1852) and his Christmas carol Minuit, chrétiens! (1844), later set to different English lyrics and widely sung as “O Holy Night” (1847). Adam was a noted teacher, who taught Delibes and other influential composers.
Composer full name: Adolphe Charles Adam
Date of Birth: 24 July 1803
Date of Death: 03 May 1856
Nationality: French
Period/Era/Style: Romantic
Biography: Adolphe Adam was born in Paris, to Jean-Louis Adam (1758–1848), who was a prominent Alsatian composer, as well a professor at the Paris Conservatoire. His mother was the daughter of a physician. As a child, Adolphe Adam preferred to improvise music on his own rather than study music seriously and occasionally truanted with writer Eugène Sue who was also something of a dunce in early years. Jean-Louis Adam was a pianist and teacher but was firmly set against the idea of his son following in his footsteps. Adam was determined, however, and studied and composed secretly under the tutelage of his older friend Ferdinand Hérold, a popular composer of the day. When Adam was 17, his father relented, and he was permitted to study at the Paris Conservatoire—but only after he promised that he would learn music only as an amusement, not as a career. He entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1821, where he studied organ and harmonium under the celebrated opera composer François-Adrien Boieldieu. Adam also played the timpani in the orchestra of the Conservatoire; however, he did not win the Prix de Rome and his father did not encourage him to pursue a music career, as he won second prize.

By age 20, he was writing songs for Paris vaudeville houses and playing in the orchestra at the Gymnasie Dramatique, where he later became chorus master. Like many other French composers, he made a living largely by playing the organ. In 1825, he helped Boieldieu prepare parts for his opera La dame blanche and made a piano reduction of the score. Adam was able to travel through Europe with the money he made, and he met Eugène Scribe, with whom he later collaborated, in Geneva. By 1830, he had completed twenty-eight works for the theatre.

Adam is probably best remembered for the ballet Giselle (1841). He wrote several other ballets and 39 operas, including Le postillon de Lonjumeau (1836) and Si j’étais roi (1852).

After quarreling with the director of the Opéra, Adam invested his money and borrowed heavily to open a fourth opera house in Paris: the Théâtre National (Opéra-National). It opened in 1847, but closed because of the Revolution of 1848, leaving Adam with massive debts (Théâtre National later was resurrected under the name of Théâtre Lyrique at the Boulevard du Temple). His efforts to extricate himself from these debts include a brief turn to journalism.[1] From 1849 to his death in Paris, he taught composition at the Paris Conservatoire.

His Christmas carol “Cantique de Noël”, translated to English as “O Holy Night”, is an international favorite, and has been widely recorded. “Cantique de Noel” is based on a poem written by M. Cappeau de Roquemaure. Adam subsequently crafted a melody for the tune that was translated into English by John Sullivan Dwight (1813 – 1893), a Boston music teacher and music journalist, as well as co-founder of The Harvard Music Society.

Adam is buried in Montmartre Cemetery in Paris.


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O Holy Night
Ballets & Ballet Excerpts
Operas & Opera Excerpts
Other Works

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Francesco Cilea

Francesco Cilea (1866-1950) was an Italian composer. Today he is particularly known for his operas L’arlesiana and Adriana Lecouvreur. Cilea wrote relatively few works, and only one, Adriana Lecouvreur, is performed with any kind of regularity. Musically and dramatically, he hovered between the nineteenth (Romantic) and twentieth centuries, writing verismo operas with a lightness that is somewhat reminiscent of bel canto. If his writing did not show musical genius, it showed mastery of his chosen style and a gift for pathos and lyricism.
Composer full Name: Francesco Cilea
Date of Birth: 23 July 1866
Date of Death: 20 November 1950
Nationality: Italian
Period/Era/Style: Romantic/20th century

Biography: Born in Palmi near Reggio di Calabria, Cilea gave early indication of an aptitude for music when at the age of four he heard a performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s Normaand was greatly affected by it. He was sent to study music at the Conservatorio di San Pietro a Majella in Naples, where he quickly demonstrated his diligence and precocious talent, earning a gold medal from the Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione (Department of Education).

In 1889, for his final examination at the end of his course of study, he submitted his opera Gina, with a libretto by Enrico Golisciani which was adapted from the old French play Catherine, ou La Croix d’or by Baron Anne-Honoré-Joseph Duveyrier de Mélésville (1787—1865). This melodramma idilico was performed in the college theatre, and it attracted the attention of the publishers Sonzogno, who arranged for a second production, in Florence, in 1892.

Sonzogno also then commissioned from Cilea La Tilda, a verismo opera in three short acts along the lines of Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana. With a libretto by Angelo Zanardini, La Tilda had a successful first performance in April 1892 at the Teatro Pagliano in Florence, and after performances in a number of Italian theatres, it arrived at the Vienna Exhibition on 24 September 1892, alongside other works from the firm of Sonzogno. The composer never showed much sympathy for this work, the subject of which he reluctantly agreed to set to music in order to please Sonzogno and to avoid throwing away a rare professional opportunity. The loss of the orchestral score has prevented the modern revival of this work, whose fresh and catchy melodies can nevertheless be discovered in the transcription for voice and piano.

In 1897 (27 November), the Teatro Lirico in Milan saw the première of Cilea’s third opera L’Arlesiana, based on the play by Alphonse Daudet, with a libretto by Leopoldo Marenco. Among the cast was the young Enrico Caruso, who performed with great success the Lamento di Federico: È la solita storia del pastore, the romance which was to keep alive the memory of the opera even to the present day. In reality L’Arlesiana was a failure which Cilea, being convinced of the work’s value, tried repeatedly to remedy, making drastic and detailed alterations throughout the remainder of his life. In the score which we hear today, it is hard to find a single bar which is completely unchanged from the original. The revised opera was however still not successful, apart from a brief period in the 1930s when it benefited from political support which the composer established through personal contact with Mussolini.

Again at the Teatro Lirico in Milan, in 1902 (6 November) and again with Enrico Caruso, the composer won an enthusiastic reception for Adriana Lecouvreur, a 4-act opera with a libretto by Arturo Colautti, set in 18th century Paris and based upon a play by Eugène Scribe. Adriana Lecouvreur is the opera of Cilea which is best known to international audiences today, and it reveals the spontaneity of a melodic style drawn from the Neapolitan school combined with harmonic and tonal shading influenced by French composers such as Massenet.

As a performer there are a number of examples of Cilea’s art. At the piano Cilea accompanied (none too elegantly) Caruso in a recording of a part of the duet Non piu nobile and made another recording with the baritone De Luca at the same time (November 1902). In 1904 for the Gramophone (and Typewriter Company) he accompanied the tenor Fernando De Lucia in L’anima ho stanca from Adriana Lecouvreur and in the song Lontananza, an effort which critic Michael Henstock (in his biography of De Lucia) declares is hardly inspired by De Lucia’s fine performances. Even given the crude recording techniques of the day Cilea’s piano playing (put charitably) seems square and lifeless. (see Henstock).

Cilea’s last opera, premièred at La Scala in Milan on 15 April 1907 under the baton of Arturo Toscanini, was the 3-act tragedy Gloria, again with a libretto by Colautti, based on a play by Victorien Sardou. The opera was withdrawn after only two performances; and the failure of this work, even though the composer attempted a later revision, was enough to drive him to abandon the operatic stage for good. There are however indications of some later unfulfilled operatic projects, which survive as parts or sketches of libretti, such as Il ritorno dell’amore by Renato Simoni, Malena by Ettore Moschino, and La rosa di Pompei, also by Moschino (dated “Naples, 20 May 1924”). Some sources also refer to an opera of 1909, completed but never performed, called Il matrimonio selvaggio, but no copy of this survives and Cilea himself made no mention of it in his volumes of memoirs (“Ricordi”).

Nevertheless, he continued to compose chamber music, and some orchestral music. In 1913 he produced a symphonic poem in honour of Giuseppe Verdi with verses by Sem Benelli, which was first performed at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa. After this he devoted himself principally to education and became director of the Conservatorio Vincenzo Bellini in Palermo, and then at his alma mater, the Conservatorio San Pietro a Maiella in Naples, where he ended his teaching career in 1936.

In his last years Cilea’s eyesight failed but his mind was active enough to encourage and work with singers of the day. Among his last musical activities was his championship of the soprano Magda Olivero (1910–2014), whose performances in the title role of Adriana Lecouvreur he especially admired. Cilea died on 20 November 1950 in Varazze, a town near Savona in Liguria which offered him honorary citizenship and where he spent the last years of his life. The Conservatorio di Musica and the Teatro Communale of Reggio di Calabria were renamed in his memory, and his native town of Palmi built a mausoleum in his memory, decorated with scenes from the myth of Orpheus.


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Adriana Lecouvreur
L’arlesiana
Other Operas
Chamber Works
Piano Works

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