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THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 2017 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS The world language of music continues to speak Italian I t must mean something if a large part of instrumental, classical and operatic music still speaks Italian today and continues to bring this national language to the world. Beginning with the second h a l f o f t h e 6 0 0 ' s , m u s i c f o r string instruments, especially for sonata and concerto, with the classification of string, wind and keyboard instruments (bassoon, flute, viola, cello, harpsichord, piano), chants (from madrigals to songs, from the strambotto to the nonsense rhyme) without forgetting the role of the indis- putable close up of the opera, which dominated the European scene until the 1920's, are all expressed in Italian. There is not only the expres- sive peak of the melodrama or the prestige of the librettist, but a musical theory which develops i t s e l f i n r e l a t i o n t o g e n r e s , forms, and compositions. For example, duo, duet, quartet, quintet, rhythmic cadence, con- certo, symphony, sonata, bal- lade, scherzo. There is the lan- guage of the musical score that u s e s v o i c e s s u c h a s a d a g i o , presto, and allegro, to introduce a style, which later becomes the d e f i n i t i o n o f m o v e m e n t s i n c o m p l e x c o m p o s i t i o n s . Terminology regarding vocal extension includes terms like basso, contralto/alto, baritone, s o p r a n o , t e n o r , c o l o r a t u r a , appoggiatura and trill. This is all "slang" for our Peninsula. T h e r e a r e m a n y m u s i c a l "Italianisms" and their diffusion represents the prestige of our culture- a predominance that continues with orchestra direc- tors. S o m e t i m e a g o , T h e Economist had highlighted the growing power among Italian mus ic directors in charge of American music academies of the highest level. These included Giannandrea Noseda, director of t h e W a s h i n g t o n N a t i o n a l Symphony Orchestra, Riccardo Muti, director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Nicola Luisotti of the San Francisco Opera, Corrado Rovaris of the Philadelphia Opera, and Fabio Luisi of the Metropolitan Opera. The latter is considered to be the most important opera theater in t h e w o r l d , h o s t i n g M a r c o Armiliato as a regular. It is also quite unique how, in an era of professional sport, referring to orchestra directors, The Economist spoke about the "Federer effect". He cited the great driving force behind the associations of the Swiss tennis player stimulated among his fel- low countrymen before the event in what is considered to be a major sport. In a similar way, the present generation of excel- l e n c e i s t h e r e s u l t o f a l o n g musical tradition which accounts for composers and extraordinary performers, like the calibre of Enrico Caruso, Mirella Freni or Luciano Pavarotti, and superb orchestra directors. The genera- tion of Muti and Abbado, for example, owes very much to the innovative capability and the charisma of the director from Parma, Arturo Toscanini, who later became American by adop- tion, would have celebrated his 150th birthday on March 25th. He is thought to be the one who reinvented the precise role of the modern orchestra director; a determining factor in the musi- c a l t o n e o f t h e o r c h e s t r a , a s much as the musicians them- selves. Not only was he called to direct the Metropolitan in New York in 1908 (the same year L'Italo-Americano was founded on the West Coast), but he is internationally recognized as one of the most brilliant directors of all time. Thanks can also be accredited to the executions of the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, who was considered to be his most famous fellow citizen, to whom he owes so much in terms of fame, especially overseas. Although, it was his personality and capability to react in dark times, along with his fight for t h e I t a l i a n d e m o c r a c y , t h a t raised the figure of Toscanini to a superior level with regard to his already sublime musical mer- its. "I feel the need to tell you how much I admire and honor y o u . Y o u a r e n o t s i m p l y a n incomparable interpreter of the musical literature of the world. Even in the fight against the fas- cist criminals, you demonstrated yourself to be a man of great dignity…. The fact that there exists a similar man in my time, compensates for many of the disillusions that we are con- stantly forced to experience." These are the words Einstein said to Toscanini in 1936, when the great orchestra director was already far away from his native Italy which had become Fascist. In this sense, music and his art became an important instrument in the political battle. I n 1 9 3 1 , T o s c a n i n i h a d already refused to direct orches- tras in Italy because of the fas- cist regime. He denied many explicit invitations from Hitler t o w o r k i n G e r m a n y a n d i n 1939, he moved indefinitely to the United States where, thanks to his recordings with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, he con- tributed to immortalizing classi- cal music, other than Italian. A m o n g o t h e r t h i n g s , Toscanini was the first to bring t h e R u s s i a n o p e r a t o N o r t h A m e r i c a a n d o p e r a s l i k e " M a d a m a B u t t e r f l y " a n d "Tristan and Isolde" to South America, taking orchestra direc- tion to a new level of musical excellence, for its musical per- fection, its concentration on the performance, the absolute per- f e c t i o n o f i t s e x e c u t i o n a n d going back to reading the musi- cal score exactly as it was writ- ten. There is no need for inter- pretations or hypothesizing ulte- rior motives because everything is already in the staves- if well performed. Toscanini is more than an I t a l i a n i c o n t o h o n o r a n d t o remember, but also great music to listen to. BARBARA MINAFRA

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