I Grandi Dimenticati: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco [The Forgotten Greats: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco] began on 22 October 2023 at the Conservatory G.Pierluigi da Palestrina in Cagliari, Sardinia and will continue through 10 May 2024. The project, the largest commemoration of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s music to date, includes 22 conferences and concerts that involve 22 professors and more than 100 students of the Conservatory, in addition to another 15 students from other parts of Europe. Two of the composer’s grandchildren, Diana and Greg, traveled to Cagliari to participate in the first week of events.
On 22 October, pianist Riccardo Rosas interviewed Diana about her grandfather’s musical journey and her personal memories. The evening continued with a concert by the Conservatory’s orchestra, conducted by Maestro Sergio Monterisi. The program featured the modern premiere of Goccius (Laudi di Sant’Efisio), a work based on a Sardinian folk theme for solo soprano and five-voice chorus. Castelnuovo-Tedesco wrote Goccius in August 1937 while staying in Castiglioncello, a seaside resort in Tuscany; he dedicated the work to the poet and novelist Gabriele D’Annunzio. Goccius had its world premiere at the Teatro Civico of Cagliari on 5 October 1937, as part of the “Seconda manifestazione di musica popolare sarda” [Second event focused on Sardinian folk music]. The performance, directed by Andrea Morosini, involved Laura Pasini as the soprano soloist and a chorus of about 100 singers dressed in Sardinian folk costumes, alongside the orchestra of the local high school. For the 2023-24 Cagliari Conservatory research project, Edizioni Curci has published Goccius and made it available to the public for the first time.
The opening night concert continued with two of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Shakespeare overtures, both written during his Italian years: Il Racconto d’inverno [Overture to a Winter’s Tale] (1934) and La dodicesima notte [Overture to Twelfth Night] (1933). The concert concluded with Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s orchestral masterpiece: his Concerto No.2 for violin and orchestra “The Prophets”, with the amazing violinist Davide De Ascaniis as soloist.
Two other concerts took place during the first week of events in Cagliari: on 24 October a concert of art songs based on texts in English, German and French were performed by soprano Paola Spissu and pianist Antonio Luciani; on 25 October selections of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s chamber music were performed by cellist Anna Campagnaro and pianist Maria Tea Lusso.
The next concert will take place on 17 November and will be focused on Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s settings of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Four Conservatory students will perform the sonnets: Manuela Ragusa, Eleonora Marras, Irina Miroshnichenko and Eleonora Chighine, accompanied on the piano by Maria Cristina Secchi, chair of collaborative piano.
About this project, Aurora Cogliandro, director of the Cagliari Conservatory, observed: «Our Institution is writing a memorable new page for local, Italian, and international culture as the protagonist of the biggest commemoration of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco ever held by a musical institution. His music always shines with formal mastery, melody, timbral combinations that are often unexpected and fascinating, an infinite variety of subjects and atmospheres. It knows how to be both profound and light, elegant and ironic, transporting us to worlds distant in time and space or into the meanders of a soul that seems to contain the entire universe.”
The composer’s family would like to thank the professors in charge of the project: Antonio Luciani, Maria Tea Lusso, Maria Cristina Secchi and Francesco Maria Moncher; Director Cogliandro; as well as all of the teachers, performers and students involved for their genuine enthusiasm and profound dedication to exploring the music of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.