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News

18 Apr

Musical settings of Dante’s Verses : Interview with Manuela Custer and Raffaele Cortesi

Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco / News /

14 September 2021 was the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, author of one of the greatest works of medieval poetry, the Divine Comedy. Celebrations were muted due to the global pandemic, but musicians – particularly in Italy – were inspired to explore musical settings of Dante’s immortal verses.  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s contributions : I quattro sonetti da ‘La vita nova’ (1926), Sera (1921), and A Dante Sonnet (1939) were included in several projects that emerged from these studies. We recently had the honor of talking to the artists who conceived one such initiative. Mezzosoprano Manuela Custer and pianist Raffaele Cortesi kindly agreed to answer our questions about their CD for the Tactus label, Liriche su testi di Dante [Art Songs based on Dante’s Texts], which includes Mario’s Quattro sonetti.
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26 Mar

Sounds of the Sephardic Diaspora in Houston

Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco / News /

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s chamber music and human journey were recently highlighted in Houston at a program presented by the Congregation Emanu El and The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, with support from the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.  A concert and lecture entitled Sounds of the Sephardic Diaspora on Sunday, 25 February 2024 featured a group of outstanding young musicians who performed chamber music by twentieth-century Jewish composers. The afternoon also included remarks by Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco about her grandfather Mario and other composers who expressed their Jewish and Sephardic heritage in their music. The event was part of  a series of programs dedicated to Jewish music that Congregation Emanu El Cantor Rollin Simmons launched in 2022 in collaboration with the Shepherd School.
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19 Feb

Cello Concerto Returns to the Italian Stage: Silvia Chiesa Interview

Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco / News /

Cellist Silvia Chiesa, a passionate interpreter of twentieth century Italian music, will perform Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Concerto in G Minor for violoncello and orchestra, op. 72, in Palermo, Sicily on 1 and 2 March 2024 with the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana, conducted by Maestro Massimiliano Caldi. These evenings will be the first performances of the Concerto in Italy in nearly ninety years. The dedicatee, the legendary virtuoso Gregor Piatigorsky, performed it in Florence and in Rome in 1935, after which it disappeared from the stage. The piece, which Castelnuovo-Tedesco wrote only a few years before he emigrated to the United States, is the composer’s only work for cello and orchestra. Silvia knows this Concerto well: first, she recorded it as part of her project Twentieth Century Italian Trilogy, which includes for the first time together on three CDs, recordings of cello concerti by Italian composers Nino Rota, Alfredo Casella, Ottorino Respighi, Ildebrando Pizzetti, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Riccardo Malipiero, and Gian Francesco Malipiero  for Sony Classical. More recently, she also has performed the Castelnuovo-Tedesco Concerto in concerts in other European countries.   Silvia kindly agreed to talk with us about her infectious enthusiasm for  Italian music of the twentieth century and about her experiences with Mario’s concerto.
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13 Jan

Platero makes his way around the world

Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco / News /

In 1960, after a student gave him a copy of Juan Ramon Jimenez’ prose poem masterpiece Platero y yo [Platero and I], Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco chose 28 of the work’s 138 chapters and set them as a melologue for guitar and narrator. Platero tells the story of a poet and his faithful donkey in the Spanish village of Moguer in Andalusia, and this touching work has become one of the composer’s most beloved. Mario set his Platero y yo to both the English translation by Elise Roach as well as to the original Spanish text. As Jimenez’s poems have now been translated into more than 100 languages and dialects, Mario’s musical setting has been adapted and performed in dozens of countries. The composer believed that the cycle was also effective as a solo guitar work, without narration, and it is also often performed this way. Recently several artists have been in touch with us about their Platero projects, which we are happy to share in this article.
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02 Dec

Art Songs + Works for Piano: Duo Vanini-Coni Interview

Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco / News /

One of the most memorable sessions of last summer’s Italian- Jewish Studies Conference in Camaldoli, Italy was a lecture and concert by the Duo Vanini-Coni (mezzosoprano Valentina Vanini and pianist Giuseppina Coni),  during which they focused on the art songs Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco wrote during his early years in Florence. The Duo has recently released a two CD box set (Tactus), which features both these early art songs as well as works for solo piano of the same period, along with interesting and in depth liner notes by Professor Cesare Orselli. The project includes the premiere recordings of three songs: La sera fiesolana, based on Gabriele D’Annunzio’s celebrated poem;  La canzone della vita, with words by Mario’s elder brother Ugo Castelnuovo-Tedesco; and the brief cycle Il libro di Dolcina, set to poems by Laura Milani Comparetti, the mother of Elisa Milani, a childhood friend of Mario’s.  Valentina and Giuseppina kindly agreed to tell us about their experience studying and recording this music.
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17 Nov

An ambitious research project in Cagliari

Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco / News /

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.
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07 Oct

Report from Cremona Musica 2023

Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco / News /

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s music was seen and heard at the 2023 edition of Cremona Musica, a three-day trade fair that combines business, music and culture. Held in Cremona, Italy, a city rich in musical history and especially renowned as a center of musical instrument manufacture, the fair is a meeting place for musicians, music teachers, publishers, instrument dealers, students, collectors and enthusiasts from Italy and around the world. In this article we share a few highlights.

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25 Aug

Greeting Cards + Passacaglia: Andrea De Vitis Interview

Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco / News /

Italian guitarist Andrea De Vitis has been lauded internationally for his concert performances and recordings, and he is also a renowned teacher. Until recently he was at the Conservatory in Avellino, Italy and starting this fall, he will be Professor of Guitar at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. He has recently added to his discography with recordings for the Naxos label of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s 21 Greeting Cards for Guitar as well as the composer’s rarely-heard Passacaglia “Omaggio a Roncalli”. Andrea kindly agreed to tell us about this latest project, which has already received several excellent reviews.
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04 Aug

Report from the Second Italian Jewish Studies Conference 

Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco / News /

The Second Italian Jewish Studies conference, which was dedicated this year to “The Jews and Music in Modern and Contemporary Italy” was held from 3-7 July 2023 in Camaldoli, an enchanting location to consider the music and artistic journey of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and other composers of Italian-Jewish descent, such as Renzo Massarani, Vittorio Rieti, Leone Sinigaglia and Aldo Finzi.  The gathering, comprised of talks and concerts, involved an international group of leading scholars and exceptional musicians.
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28 Jun

Chamber Music: Benjamin Bernstein Interview

Diana Castelnuovo-Tedesco / News /

In the late 1940s, after working for some years as a film composer in Hollywood, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco found his way back to chamber music, a genre he had always loved. Mario was inspired to write his celebrated Quintet for Guitar and Strings, op. 143, as well as other works that remained unpublished for many years. Thanks to the collaboration between Edizioni Curci and the composer’s family, many of these works are now published and available in the Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco Collection. The Ensemble Mark Rothko, based in Northern Italy, has dedicated its latest recording project to Mario’s music from this period. Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Chamber Works (Da Vinci Classics) includes the world premiere recording of the Third String Quartet “Casa al Dono,”  op.203 (1964).  The composer’s final quartet, a work filled with nostalgia for Tuscany, is dedicated to the composer’s friend Bernard Berenson (1865–1959), the great scholar of Italian renaissance art. Benjamin Bernstein, Ensemble Mark Rothko’s violist, kindly accepted our invitation to tell us about this project and the group’s experience recording Mario’s music for the first time. 
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