Category Archives: Music

The Diva in Modern Italian Culture

ITS_150pxThe latest issue (vol.70, no.3, August 2015) of the journal Italian Studies, entitled The Diva in Modern Italian Culture, explores a national case that has been largely overlooked in the extensive scholarship on the phenomenon of the diva in literature, theatre, and opera. It takes a long historical perspective, with the contributors discussing examples all the way from Isabella Andreini (1562-1604) to Anna Magnani (1908-1973) and including Antonia Cavallucci and Eleanora Duse. Recurring themes in the articles include feminine beauty, ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’, self-promotion and marketing, the contradictory image of femininity and its relationship to contemporary values.

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La Voce Della Luna

La Voce Della Lunaluna_yarra_cd_cover is a Melbourne-based multi-generational Italian women’s choir which has been singing Italian folk songs since 1996. In Songs of Motherland, at the Museo Italiano, 199 Faraday St, Carlton on Thursday 19 November at 6.30pm (free but booking essential), with their musical director since July 2013, Elvira Andreoli, they will be presenting their third CD, a collection of songs from Italy from the 16th century onwards and from Australia, realised with the collaboration of indigenous singer-songwriter Joe Geia, the Neapolitan singer Annamaria Colasanto, multi-instrumentalist Phil Carroll and hurdy-gurdy aficionado Alexander Parise. The choir’s repertoire speaks of love, loss, war, poverty, pain, turmoil, rebellion and injustice, celebrations, harvest, the seasons, joy, of ‘times gone by long ago’, as well as the ever-present ‘nostalgia’ of the migrant experience.

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Italian Jewish Musicians and Composers during Fascism

9885024_origThere are voices of musicians that still remain unheard but will remain alive forever. This is the case of Jewish musicians and composers in Fascist and Nazi-Fascist Italy who were excluded from theatres, orchestras and music conservatories and whose compositions were banned as ‘degenerate music’. Their experiences and their fate (exclusion, persecution, emigration) will be the theme of an international conference, Italian Jewish Musicians and Composers during Fascism, organized by the Festival Viktor Ullmann and the University of Trieste with the collaboration of the Fondazione Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi, to be held on 26 October 2015. Scholars from different disciplinary fields will examine the relation between the racist phases of Fascism and the lives and works of Jewish composers and musicians. The conference will also host a round table with relatives and students of the persecuted musicians and composers, who will offer their direct testimonies and memories. Continue reading

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Bartolomeo Cristofori, pianoforte man

Sally Grant   New York

Image: Google

Image: Google

For those who may have missed it, on Monday Google celebrated the 360th birthday of Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731) of Padua, with a doodle dedicated to the relatively unknown, at least outside of musical circles, inventor of the pianoforte. By including a scale that changes the volume from piano to forte, the doodler, Leon Hong, has playfully captured the innovative nature of Cristofori’s invention. Watching the instrument maker become more animated as the volume rises is a particularly delightful touch. Perhaps it also signifies the glee that Cristofori feels for at last being celebrated in such a global and prominent way for his creation of a musical instrument that has impacted human culture so profoundly. The Metropolitan Museum of Art here in New York owns one of only three surviving pianos by Cristofori. The other two are at the Museo Strumenti Musicali in Rome and at Leipzig University’s Musikinstrumenten-Museum.

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RISM seminar (19 March): Alessandro Carrieri on Jewish musicians in Fascist Italy

la difesa della razzaAs the first contribution to the RISM/Italian Studies in the Community seminars for 2015 Alessandro Carrieri will talk on Memory and resistance of Jewish musicians in Fascist Italy on March 19 at 5.30 pm at Monash Caulfield Campus, Building H, Room HB36.

There are voices of resistance that are little heard but will remain alive forever. This is the case of Italian Jewish musicians and composers in Fascist Italy. The announcement of racial (racist) laws by Benito Mussolini in Trieste on 18 September 1938 covered Jewish composers, notably Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Renzo Massarani, Vittorio Rieti, Aldo Finzi and Leone Sinigaglia. Their situation gradually worsened, they were excluded by theatres, orchestras and music conservatories, and their works were banned as examples of ‘degenerate music’.

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Foreign Artists in Italy 1900-2015

120px-Marina_Grande_SorrentoThe Canadian Society for Italian Studies Conference, Sorrento, 19-21 June 2015, invites papers for an interdisciplinary session on Foreign Artists in Italy 1900-2015. Papers may focus on foreign residents or long-term visitors to Italy working within any branch of the arts (music, literature, film, visual art, theatre/performance). The panel will examine the creative practice of these artists in Italy, their motivations for being there and the significance of their Italian work within the broader contexts of their output, as well as their contribution to Italian creative practice and discourse and their collaboration with Italian and foreign colleagues. How analysis of the works of ‘the artist resident abroad’ can contribute to debates about international creative collaboration, cosmopolitanism and notions of national and diasporic art will be an issue for discussion. Papers on Campania-based foreign artists are welcome but not required.

Abstracts (250 words) of proposals should be sent to Mark Nicholls by December 31 2014.

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Migration Blues: Readings and songs from ‘Schizophrenia Migrantis’

51608-1According to Danilo Sidari, ‘schizophrenia migrantis’ is a state of mind affecting the majority of migrants (regardless of their ethnicity) and caused by a strong feeling of homesickness. The malaise mainly shows itself in a sense of displacement generating a sort of “grey psychological zone” where cultural identity is not clearly defined. At the Museo Italiano, Carlton, on 16 October at 6.30pm, Danilo Sidari will be reading excerpts of stories from his book, Schizophrenia Migrantis, and performing songs alongside the pianist Mauro Colombis.

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In October the Museo Italiano (Co.As.It., 199 Faraday Street, Carlton) will host two free events devoted to the oral musical tradition of Southern Italy.

Wednesday 16 October 6.30pm – The Italian “tamburello”. Introduction to the Italian frame drum. Workshop with Salvatore Rossano (only 15 active participants can be accommodated; registration essential)

Saturday 19 October 5.30pm – Santa Taranta in concert with Rosa Voto (The Melbourne School of Tarantella). Traditional music and dances of Southern Italy  (RSVP essential)

RSVP:; (03)93499021

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Welcome_HD copy_smallWith the collaboration of the Federazione Lucana, the Museo Italiano (199 Faraday Street, Carlton, Vic 3053) has organised an exhibition and a series of musical and cultural events based on the music and migrants from the Lucanian community in Melbourne, to take place in the second half of August and accompanied by the publication of a special issue of the Italian Historical Society Journal.

Exhibition: 16 August – 12 October 2013

15 August, 6.30pm. Exhibition launch. Music and traditional finger food evening.

Introduction to the exhibition – Alison Rabinovici, curator and musicologist.

Traditional music from Lucania – Davide Ierardi, harp.

Music of the Lucanian migrant community – Sue Hull and and her band Susy Blue.

20 August, 6,30pm. Book launchItaly in Australia’s Musical Landscape, edited by Linda Barwick and Marcello Sorce Keller (Lyrebird Press, 2012).

The book brings together essays tracing the diverse origins of the musical practices of Australia’s Italians and the subsequent influence of commercial music, government policies, and ongoing transnational relationships with family and paesani. Ivano Ercole will launch the book; the launch is supported by the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.

30 August, 6.30pm. Music from the Lucanian tradition.

Historical presentation with music played by Davide Ierardi (harp) and Carlo Donnoli (accordion).

Free events – RSVP essential:; 9349 9021

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Fabrizio De André, popular intellectual

Guendalina Carbonelli   Monash University

I cannot remember the first time I came across Fabrizio. I was a child when like many Italians I started to listen to his songs with my parents and my older siblings. At that age his songs were fairytales to me; as I grew up, however, I realised that his songs had a very provocative component.Fabrizio_De_André2 My academic interest in De André is far more recent, however, and was triggered by the many initiatives that in 2009 were dedicated to the 10th anniversary of his death. The event was celebrated with books, successful tv shows and in particular a touring exhibition which visited Genoa, Rome, Nuoro, Palermo, and Milan between January 2009 and October 2010. 144,000 people went to the exhibition during the first 6 months in Genoa alone and about 150,000 in Nuoro and Rome. Visits by celebrities and politicians helped to boost the wide national response to the exhibition. In 2009 Cristiano De André, Fabrizio’s son and a singer-songwriter himself, started a tour in which he sang his father’s songs. The tour lasted two years and reached an audience of more than 500,000 people. I found all this attention quite unusual, even for a cantautore as popular as De André: I wondered why he was able to generate such a significant level of interest.

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