In Memoriam Angelo Gilardino

Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco / News / / 1 like
San Michele a Monteripaldi by Giovanni Colacicchi, 1927

Composer, musicologist, editor and author Angelo Gilardino left us on January 14, 2022, shortly after celebrating his 80th birthday last November. While others have lauded his creative achievements,  I would like to reflect on his friendship with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and his lifelong advocacy for Mario’s music.  Angelo’s tireless work to make his mentor’s music available — and always in its most authentic forms — has been essential to the advancement of Mario’s music in recent years.

In his 2016  memoir, Io, la chitarra e altri incontri: memorie di un artista, Angelo recounts, in the form of a letter to Castelnuovo-Tedesco, how the two corresponded during the last year of Mario’s life, and what this relationship meant to him. He explains how Mario’s interest, encouragement and advice to devote himself to composition changed Angelo’s life forever. Mario entrusted the young Gilardino with editing several important works for solo guitar, including Los Caprichos de Goya and Platero y yo. Mario’s choice was an audacious one, according to Gilardino; however, Mario was a man who acted on instinct and didn’t worry about “what people would think.” In these editions, Gilardino chose to publish the work according to the manuscript (without fingerings or major editing) in order to carry out “the exact will of the author.” This philosophy also permeated his re-editions of Capriccio Diabolico, Tarantella, and the Sonata (Omaggio a Boccherini), all based on original manuscripts found in the archives of the Andrés Segovia Foundation of Linares, Spain, of which he was artistic director from 1997 to 2005. 

Gilardino was my grandfather’s friend, and later he became my parents’ friend.  Eventually I also had the good fortune to know him and establish a friendship.  Just as Mario had encouraged him, Angelo was the one who wholeheartedly encouraged me to focus on publishing Mario’s vast catalog, including many works that had never been published or had been out of print for decades. He put me in touch with Laura Moro of Edizioni Curci, who has become not only a wonderful collaborator but also a dear friend. Angelo personally took charge of creating and supervising the Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco Collection for Curci, a vast editorial undertaking which resulted in the publication of previously unavailable works, including art songs, chamber music, operas, orchestral music, and solo piano works. 

In addition to his work as a music editor, Angelo authored Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco:Un fiorentino a Beverly Hills, a book in which he not only shared his knowledge of the composer’s life, but also his views on Mario’s music and legacy.  For his commitment to this work, in 2018 Gilardino was awarded the Presidential Prize and the Medal of the Chamber of Deputies of the Republic of Italy. That same year Angelo received the go-ahead from Mrs. Emilia Segovia to publish her late husband’s letters to Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco with Edizioni Curci [published as Caro Mario: Lettere a Castelnuovo-Tedesco]. Since Andrés Segovia’s letters to MCT are held in the Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco Papers at the Library of Congress, I had the honor of acting as a conduit between Angelo and the Library. For several months we were in almost daily contact. It was then that I had a chance to experience first-hand Angelo’s immense productivity, his remarkable knowledge, and his intense dedication to the preservation of Mario’s legacy for future generations.

In his later life, Mario had put his faith in the future — encouraging his students and young musicians with whom he came in contact — and Angelo did the same. As Mario had done with his musical Greeting Cards (including one, Volo d’Angeli, for Gilardino), Gilardino dedicated compositions to promising musicians, and he encouraged many aspiring composers in their journeys. As he said about this aim in a Facebook post in December 2017: “This is a conscious choice: they [young performers] represent the future and, as an old man, I believe that they should be made responsible for the destiny of classical guitar music”

Thank you, Angelo, for teaching us, for inspiring us, and for making sure that Mario’s music and legacy will be available for future generations. 

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So why did I choose this particular painting to illustrate the article? This painting, which depicts San Michele at Monteripaldi, near Florence, was painted by Giovanni Colacicchi at Mario’s request in 1927. It was a work that my grandfather treasured throughout his life. Angelo appreciated the painting and its evocation of Mario’s Tuscany.  As Angelo recounts in his memoir, in 2004, he asked my mother Lisbeth if he could reproduce the painting for the printed edition of his work, “Cipressi: Ricordo di Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco,” the first movement of the Sonata Mediterranea.  When she sent him a photo, he was concerned that it had suffered some losses of paint. In his ever-direct manner, he told her that the painting needed restoration: “I had a sincere concern, not wanting to see something that I loved damaged.” Several times subsequently, Angelo politely but firmly reminded me that the painting needed restoration. Respecting his knowledge and expertise about 20th century Italian painting, I had no doubt that he was right.  Finally, in 2021, I was able to find the right person for the job, and when the painting came back from the restorer in late December, I rushed to send Angelo a photo. He replied, “This painting is more important to me than a Picasso. I’m happy that you have taken care of it.”  This would turn out to be our last exchange.  I am happy that, when he left this world, it was with one less worry. 

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