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.

Alberto Bologni (violin) and Carlo Palese (piano) performed unpublished works by Castelnuovo-Tedesco including La Figlia del Reggimento: a fantasy for violin and piano on themes by Donizetti (1941) and Chant Hébraïque (1928) in the arrangement for violin and piano by Gioacchino Maglioni. Their recording (for EMA Vinci Classica) of the Figlia del Reggimento Fantasy is available to listen to here.

Simonetta Heger (piano) e Beatrice Palumbo (soprano) presented a lecture-demonstration that included art songs by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, among them the unpublished Canzone di Usigliano, with words by the composer’s brother- in-law Fernando Liuzzi, and the rarely performed Girotondo dei Golosi, which was dedicated to Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s niece and nephew, Lucetta and Franco Liuzzi.

Caroline Helton (soprano) e Muse Ye (piano) performed the song cycle I tre fioretti di Santo Francesco e la Vocalise-Chant Hébraïque in the original version for voice and piano. Their concert demonstrated how Castelnuovo-Tedesco was inspired not only by Jewish themes but also Italy’s Catholic traditions. Caroline’s recording of I tre fioretti and other art songs by Castelnuovo-Tedesco can be streamed here.

Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s art songs were also the subject of a lecture-demonstration by  The Vanini Coni Duo (Valentina Vanini, mezzosoprano, e Giuseppina Coni, piano). Their session featured the unpublished and rarely heard  La Sera Fiesolana, La Canzone della Vita e Il libro di Dolcina, which they recently recorded. Their new CD,  “Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Art Songs – Works for Piano,” will be released this fall with the Tactus label.

Aloma Bardi, an expert in American music and the founder and director of ICAMus, The International Center for American Music, presented the lecture  “How they became American composers: Exile and transformation in Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Vittorio Rieti e Renzo Massarani”.  She spoke about how these composers integrated themselves into musical life in the Americas.

Davide Ceriani, associate professor of Musicology at Rowan University, spoke about Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and his opera The Merchant of Venice. 

The composer’s family would like to thank the Fondazione Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea (CDEC), the Colloqui Ebraico-Christiani di Camaldoli, la Fondazione Alessandro Nangeroni, The Centro Leo Levi,  ICAMus, the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance,  the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, The Jewish Community of Florence, and all the presenters and participants for a wonderful week!  Your work inspires us to persevere in our efforts to make all of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s works available.