Type of Document Dissertation Author Cimarusti, Thomas Michael Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-07162007-010404 Title The Songs of Luigi Gordigiani (1806-1860), "Lo Schuberto Italiano" Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Music, College of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Douglass Seaton Committee Chair Charles E. Brewer Committee Member Jeffery Kite-Powell Committee Member Valerie Trujillo Committee Member William Leparulo Committee Member Keywords
- Italian Song
- Art Song
- Canti Popolari
Date of Defense 2007-06-28 Availability unrestricted AbstractMusic historians have long acknowledged the importance of opera in nineteenth-century Italy. Few musicologists, however, have explored the more intimate genre that also played an important role in Italy’s artistic, political, and social sphere – the Italian art song. This study begins with a discussion as to why few scholars have unjustifiably dismissed Italian song in favor of Italian opera – a genre that evidently eclipsed the recognition of Italian song. Although the operas of Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, and Verdi highlight the century’s musical achievements, an examination of primary sources reveals that Italy possessed a rich and active concert life outside the opera house. Yet although most significant opera composers experimented with song, only one would claim international attention in this genre, the Tuscan-born composer Luigi Gordigiani (1806-1860).
Beginning with the composer’s childhood, a brief biographical sketch of the composer reveals a figure determined to compose for the stage – attempts that mostly met with disappointment. His failed attempts at securing a career as an opera composer, along with financial difficulties, led Gordigiani to compose more intimate works, most importantly his eight collections of Canti popolari toscani for voice and piano. These pieces would lead Gordigiani to the intimate salons and concert halls of Europe, places where he would establish himself among the most elite figures of his day. An examination of primary sources from the period reveals a composer whose circle of friends belonged to the elite of London and Florence, including Queen Victoria, Giuseppe Poniatowski, and Nikolai and Anatole Demidov. His reputation as a song composer among these figures and the public brought him the attention from over fifty publishers across Europe, including firms in France, Germany, Russia, Poland, England, and Belgium.
This study also examines the historical context in which Gordigiani composed his songs. Arguably, Italy’s political turmoil, excessive tax, and French and Austrian domination, may have spoiled the country’s piano industry, resulting in a large number of piano imports from France, Germany, and Austria. Nevertheless, the public’s interest for song, whether operatic arias or romanze, brought about an increase in the number of song publications, an aspect that may have stimulated the growth of the piano industry later in the century.
The poems and poets of the risorgimento also investigated. From examination of the poets of the period, it becomes evident that Gordigiani was less interested in the works of major Italian figures like Foscolo, Manzoni, and Leopardi; rather, the composer generally looked to local poets who more likely had an affinity toward folk idioms. Gordigiani’s choice of poetry also reveals that he not only used song as a form of entertainment, but also as an expression of nationalistic and political sentiments.
Finally, this study shows that Gordigiani, unlike many of his Italian contemporaries, assimilated the German Lied tradition. His gift for melody, rich harmonic vocabulary, and clever musico-poetic techniques set him apart from his contemporaries, earning him the nickname “lo Schuberto italiano” – an appellation which begs the question: was Luigi Gordigiani an "Italian" Schubert or an Italian "Schubert"?
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