Luigi Dallapiccola

Last updated

Luigi Dallapiccola (February 3, 1904 February 19, 1975) was an Italian composer known for his lyrical twelve-tone compositions.

Contents

Biography

Dallapiccola was born in Pisino d'Istria (current Pazin, Croatia), to Italian parents.

Unlike many composers born into highly musical environments, his early musical career was irregular at best. Political disputes over his birthplace of Istria, then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, led to instability and frequent moves. His father was headmaster of an Italian-language school the only one in the city which was shut down at the start of World War I. The family, considered politically subversive, was placed in internment at Graz, Austria, where the budding composer did not even have access to a piano, though he did attend performances at the local opera house, which cemented his desire to pursue composition as a career. Once back to his hometown Pisino after the war, he travelled frequently.

Dallapiccola took his piano degree at the Florence Conservatory in the 1920s and became professor there in 1931; until his 1967 retirement he spent his career there teaching lessons in piano as a secondary instrument, replacing his teacher Ernesto Consolo as the older man's illness prevented him from continuing. He also studied composition with Vito Frazzi at the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini. Dallapiccola's students include Abraham Zalman Walker, Luciano Berio, Bernard Rands, Donald Martino, Halim El-Dabh, Ernesto Rubin de Cervin, Arlene Zallman, Roland Trogan, Noel Da Costa, and Raymond Wilding-White. See: List of music students by teacher: C to F#Luigi Dallapiccola .

Dallapiccola's early experiences under the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, who governed Italy from October 1922 to July 1943, colored his outlook and output for the rest of his life. He once supported Mussolini, believing the propaganda, and it was not until the 1930s that he became passionate about his political views, in protest to the Abyssinian campaign and Italy's involvement in the Spanish Civil War. Mussolini's sympathy with Adolf Hitler's views on race, which threatened Dallapiccola's Jewish wife Laura Luzzatto, only hardened his stance. Canti di prigionia and Il prigioniero are reflections of this impassioned concern; the former was his first true protest work.

During World War II he was in the dangerous position of opposing the Nazis; though he tried to go about his career as usual, and did, to a limited extent. On two occasions he was forced to go into hiding for several months. Dallapiccola continued his touring as a recitalist but only in countries not occupied by the Nazis.

Though it was only after the war that his compositions made it into the public eye (with his opera Il prigioniero sparking his fame), it was then that his life became relatively quiet. He made frequent travels to the United States, including appearances at Tanglewood in the summers of 1951 and 1952 and several semesters of teaching courses in composition at Queens College, New York beginning in 1956. He was a sought-after lecturer throughout Western Europe and the Americas. Dallapiccola's 1968 opera Ulisse would be the peak of his career, after which his compositional output was sparse; his later years were largely spent writing essays rather than music.

He had no more finished compositions after 1972 due to his failing health, and he died in Florence in 1975 of edema of the lungs. There are, however, a very few sketches and fragments of work from this period, including a vocal work left unfinished just hours before his death.

Music

It was Richard Wagner's music that inspired Dallapiccola to start composing in earnest, and Claude Debussy's that caused him to stop: hearing Der fliegende Holländer while exiled to Austria convinced the young man that composition was his calling, but after first hearing Debussy in 1921, at age 17, he stopped composing for three years in order to give this important influence time to sink in. The neoclassical works of Ferruccio Busoni would figure prominently in his later work, but his biggest influence would be the ideas of the Second Viennese School, which he encountered in the 1930s, particularly Alban Berg and Anton Webern. Dallapiccola's works of the 1920s (the period of his adherence to fascism) have been withdrawn, with the instruction that they never be performed, though they still exist under controlled access for study.

His works widely use the serialism developed and embraced by his idols; he was, in fact, the first Italian to write in the method, and the primary proponent of it in Italy, and he developed serialist techniques to allow for a more lyrical, tonal style. Throughout the 1930s his style developed from a diatonic style with bursts of chromaticism to a consciously serialist outlook. He went from using twelve-tone rows for melodic material to structuring his works entirely serially. With the adoption of serialism he never lost the feel for melodic line that many of the detractors of the Second Viennese School claimed to be absent in modern dodecaphonic music. His disillusionment with Mussolini's regime effected a change in his style: after the Abyssinian campaign he claimed that his writing would no longer ever be light and carefree as it once was. While there are later exceptions, particularly the Piccolo concerto per Muriel Couvreux, this is largely the case.

Liriche Greche (1942–45), for solo voice with instruments, would be his first work composed entirely in this twelve-tone style, composed concurrently with his last original purely diatonic work, the ballet Marsia (1943). The following decade showed a refinement in his technique and the increasing influence of Webern's work. After this, from the 1950s on, the refined, contemplative style he developed would characterize his output, in contrast to the more raw and passionate works of his youth. Most of his works would be songs for solo voice and instrumental accompaniment. His touch with instrumentation is noted for its impressionistic sensuality and soft textures, heavy on sustained notes by woodwinds and strings (particularly middle-range instruments, such as the clarinet and viola).

The politically charged Canti di prigionia for chorus and ensemble was the beginning of a loose triptych on the highly personal themes of imprisonment and injustice; the one-act opera Il prigioniero and the cantata Canti di liberazione completed the trilogy. Of these, Il prigioniero (1944–48) has become Dallapiccola's best-known work. It tells the chilling story of a political prisoner whose jailor, in an apparent gesture of fraternity, allows him to escape from his cell. At the moment of his freedom, however, he finds he has been the victim of a cruel practical joke as he runs straight into the arms of the Grand Inquisitor, who smilingly leads him off to the stake at which he is to be burned alive. The opera's pessimistic outlook reflects Dallapiccola's complete disillusionment with fascism (which he had naïvely supported when Mussolini first came to power) and the music contained therein is both beautifully realized and supremely disquieting.

His final opera Ulisse, with his own libretto after The Odyssey , was the culmination of his life's work. It was composed over eight years, including and developing themes from his earlier works, and was his last large-scale composition.

List of works

Writings by Dallapiccola

Writings in English on Dallapiccola

Related Research Articles

Franco Alfano Italian composer and pianist

Franco Alfano was an Italian composer and pianist, best known today for his opera Risurrezione (1904) and above all for having completed Puccini's opera Turandot in 1926. He had considerable success with several of his own works during his lifetime.

Chamber Music is a composition in three sections for female voice, clarinet, cello and harp by the Italian composer Luciano Berio. It is a setting of three poems from the collection of poetry Chamber Music by James Joyce, whose work was to be a frequent source for Berio. The songs were composed in 1953, and show the influence of Luigi Dallapiccola with whom Berio had studied in 1952 at the Tanglewood Music Center.

Luca Lombardi is an Italian composer.

Hendrik Pienaar Hofmeyr is a South African composer. Born in Cape Town, he furthered his studies in Italy during 10 years of self-imposed exile as a conscientious objector. While there, he won the South African Opera Competition with The Fall of the House of Usher. He also received the annual Nederburg Prize for Opera for this work subsequent to its performance at the State Theatre in Pretoria in 1988. In the same year, he obtained first prize in an international competition in Italy with music for a short film by Wim Wenders. He returned to South Africa in 1992, and in 1997 won two major international composition competitions, the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition of Belgium and the first edition of the Dimitris Mitropoulos Competition in Athens. His 'Incantesimo' for solo flute was selected to represent South Africa at the ISCM World Music Days in Croatia in 2005. In 2008 he was honoured with a Kanna award by the Kleinkaroo National Arts Festival. He is currently Professor and Head of Composition and Theory at the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town, where he obtained a DMus in 1999.

David Blake is an English composer and founder member of the Department of Music at the University of York.

Il prigioniero is an opera in a prologue and one act, with music and libretto by Luigi Dallapiccola. The opera was first broadcast by the Italian radio station RAI on 1 December 1949. The work is based on the short story La torture par l'espérance from the collection Nouveaux contes cruels by the French writer Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam and from La Légende d'Ulenspiegel et de Lamme Goedzak by Charles de Coster. Some of the musical material is based on Dallapiccola's earlier choral work on a similar theme, Canti di prigionia (1938). Dallapiccola composed Il prigioniero in the period of 1944–1948. The work contains seven parts and lasts about 50 minutes. The musical idiom is serialism, and it is one of the first completed operas using that compositional method.

Raymond Wilding-White ; was an American composer of contemporary classical music and electronic music, and a photographer/digital artist.

Bruno Bettinelli Italian composer

Bruno Bettinelli was an Italian composer and teacher.

Ulisse is an opera in a prologue and two acts composed by Luigi Dallapiccola to his own libretto based on the legend of Ulysses. It premiered at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin on 29 September 1968 conducted by Lorin Maazel with Erik Saedén in the title role. Ulisse was Dallapiccola's last opera and took eight years to compose. As in his previous operas, Volo di notte and Il prigioniero, his declared theme was "the struggle of man against some force much stronger than he".

Teresa Procaccini is an Italian composer and music educator.

Canti di prigionia is a setting for chorus, two pianos, two harps and percussion by the Italian composer Luigi Dallapiccola.

Mark Kopytman was a composer, musicologist and pedagogue. He was a professor and a rector of the Rubin Academy, and a Laureate of the Serge Koussevitzky Prize for his composition Voices of Memory (1986). Awarded the title "People's Artist of Moldova" in (1992) by the Moldovan President for the creation of the first Moldovan National Opera «Casa mare».

Adriano Guarnieri (composer) composer

Adriano Guarnieri is an Italian composer of contemporary classical music.

Ivan Fedele is an Italian composer. He studied at the Milan Conservatory.

Alessandro Solbiati is an Italian composer of classical music, who composed instrumental music for chamber ensembles and orchestra, art songs and operas. He received international commissions and awards, and many of his works are recorded. He is also an academic, teaching in Italy and France.

References