Alfredo Casella

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Alfredo Casella

Alfredo Casella (born July 25, 1883 in Turin , † March 5, 1947 in Rome ) was an Italian composer , pianist , conductor , music writer and music critic . In his home country he is considered one of the most popular composers of the 20th century, as he succeeded in incorporating a typical Italian national style into new music . He was also a respected teacher and editor.


Alfredo Casella was born into a family of musicians whose tradition dates back to Dante's time . His grandfather, his father and two of his uncles were cellists and his mother a pianist. From her he received his first piano lessons.

In 1896 he began studying at the Paris Conservatory in the subjects piano with Louis Diémer and composition with Gabriel Fauré . Among his college friends were Maurice Ravel and George Enescu . During his studies he made the acquaintance of Claude Debussy and colleagues from his generation of composers such as Manuel de Falla and Igor Stravinsky , but also with the then already famous composers Ferruccio Busoni , Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss .

After completing his studies, Casella taught piano at the Paris Conservatoire, where he became assistant to the pianist Alfred Cortot . As a young conductor he was one of the first in France to campaign for the work of Gustav Mahler.

With the outbreak of the First World War he returned to his homeland and was a teacher at the Liceo Musicale di Santa Cecilia in Rome from 1915 to 1923, and after 1933 also at the Academia of the Roman Institute. In addition to activities as a concert conductor and music critic, Casella was above all one of the leading Italian pianists of his time. With the cellist Arturo Bonucci and the violinist Alberto Poltronieri, he founded the Trio Italiano in 1930, which was celebrated throughout Europe and in the USA. In 1930 Casella was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . Many chamber music and piano works of this time were written for personal concert use.

The city of Naples donated a “City of Naples Prize” in his honor, which is awarded as part of an “International Casella Competition”. The Alfredo Casella competition, named after the musician, has been held by the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena since 1983 and is aimed at avant-garde instrumentalists.

In 1959 the International Society for Contemporary Music ISCM awarded him posthumously honorary membership.



Although he initially gave in to many influences on his musical language - Richard Wagner in his youth , then his teacher Fauré, Mahler and Strauss, and finally Stravinsky - Casella took up the Italian models of the 17th and 18th centuries and wrote mainly neoclassical compositions, partly in the technique of twelve-tone music . He aimed to combine national stylistic elements of the past with European elements of the present. In his maturity period he found his personal style, a combination of dance, motor rhythm and melodies that are inspired by southern Italian folk music. His music sounds colorful and balanced, he was considered an outstanding orchestrator . In the polyphonic and transparent compositional technique, reminiscent of Paul Hindemith , for example , his compositions are often polytonal .

With the other composers of the generazione dell'ottanta - Franco Alfano , Gian Francesco Malipiero , Ildebrando Pizzetti and Ottorino Respighi , born around 1880 , who belonged to the musical generation after Giacomo Puccini and Verism - Alfredo Casella did not limit himself to instrumental works, but also continued to work the Italian operatic tradition continued.

Editor and editor

The rediscovery of Antonio Vivaldi's music in the 20th century was largely thanks to Casella's dedication. In 1939 he organized a Vivaldi festival week in Siena together with the poet Ezra Pound . Since then, Vivaldi has once again become a fixture in the repertoire of baroque music and enjoys great popularity in historical performance practice .

In 1947 Casella founded the Istituto Italiano Antonio Vivaldi , of which Malipiero became its artistic director. One of the main focuses of this institute is the new scientific edition of Vivaldi's works.

As editor and commentator, Casella also oversaw works by Domenico Scarlatti and Muzio Clementi , Mozart and Beethoven . In addition, his preoccupation with the music of other composers repeatedly led to arrangements of foreign works, such as orchestral versions of Johann Sebastian Bach's Chaconne in D minor for solo violin, Balakirew's piano fantasy Islamey or marches by Franz Schubert .


Orchestral works

  • Symphony No. 1 in B minor op.5 (1905/6)
  • Italia , orchestral rhapsody op.11 (1909)
  • Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 12 (1908/9)
  • Suite in C major op.13 (1909/10)
  • Ballet suite from The Venetian Monastery op.19 (1912/3)
  • Pagine di Guerra op.23bis (1918)
  • Pupazzetti op.27bis (1920)
  • Elegia eroica "To the Unknown Soldier" op. 29 (1916)
  • Concerto for Strings Op. 40bis (1923/4)
  • Symphonic Suite from Der Krug op.41bis (1924)
  • Serenade for small orchestra op.46bis (1930)
  • Marcia Rustica op.49 (1929)
  • Frau Schlange , Symphonic Fragments I / II op.50bis and op.50ter (1928–31)
  • Introduzione, Aria e Toccata for orchestra op.55 (1933)
  • Introduzione, Corale e Marcia op.57 (1931–35)
  • Concerto for Orchestra op.61 (1937)
  • Symphony No. 3 op.63 (1939/40)
  • Divertimento per Fulvia op.64 (1940)
  • Paganiniana , Divertimento for orchestra op.65 (1942)

Concert works

  • A notte alta for piano and orchestra op.30bis (1921)
  • Partita for piano and orchestra op.42 (1924/5)
  • Concerto romano for organ, brass, timpani and strings op.43 (1926)
  • Scarlattiana for piano and small orchestra op.44 (1926)
  • Violin Concerto op.48 (1928)
  • Notturno e Tarantella for violoncello and orchestra op.54 (1934)
  • Triple Concerto op.56 (1933)
  • Violoncello Concerto op.58 (1934/5)
  • Concerto for piano, strings, timpani and percussion op. 69 (1943), commissioned by Paul Sacher

Chamber music

  • Barcarole and Scherzo for flute and piano op.4 (1903)
  • Violoncello Sonata No. 1 op.8 (1906)
  • Sicilienne et Burlesque for flute and piano op.23 (1914)
  • Pagine di Guerra for piano four hands op.25 (1915)
  • Pupazzetti for piano four hands op.27 (1915)
  • Five pieces for string quartet op.34 (1920)
  • Concerto for String Quartet op.40 (1923/4)
  • Violoncello Sonata No. 2 op.45 (1926)
  • Minuet from Scarlattiana for violin and piano (1926)
  • Serenade for five instruments op.46 (1927)
  • Cavatine and Gavotte from Serenata Italiana for violin and piano (1927)
  • Prelude and Danza siciliana from Der Krug for violin and piano (1928)
  • Sinfonia for piano, violoncello, clarinet and trumpet op.53 (1932)
  • Notturno for violoncello and piano (1934)
  • Tarantella for violoncello and piano (1934)
  • Sonata a tre for piano trio op.62 (1938)
  • Harp Sonata op.68 (1943)

Piano works

  • Pavane op. 1 (1902)
  • Variations sur une Chaconne op.3 (1903)
  • Toccata op.6 (1904)
  • Sarabande op.10 (1908)
  • Notturnino (1909)
  • Berceuse triste op.14 (1909)
  • Barcarola op.15 (1910)
  • À la Manière de ... Part 1 op.17 (1911)
  • À la Manière de ... Part 2 op.17bis (1914)
  • Nine pieces op. 24 (1914)
  • Sonatina op.28 (1916)
  • A notte alta op. 30 (1917)
  • Deux Contrastes op. 31 (1916-18)
  • Inezie op. 32 (1918)
  • Cocktail Dance (1918)
  • Eleven Children's Pieces op.35 (1920)
  • Two Italian Folk Songs op.47 (1928)
  • Two ricercare on the name BACH op.52 (1932)
  • Sinfonia, Arioso e Toccata op.59 (1936)
  • Ricercare on the name Guido M. Gatti (1942)
  • Studies on major thirds (1942)
  • Six studies op. 70 (1942–44)
  • Trois Pièces pour Pianola , before 1921

Vocal works

  • Nuageries (1903), text: Jean Richepin
  • Five songs op.2 (1902)
  • La Cloche Felée op.7 (1904), text: Charles Baudelaire
  • Trois Lyriques op.9 (1905), texts: Albert Samain, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine
  • Sonnett op.16 (1910), text: Pierre de Ronsard
  • Five symphonic fragments for soprano and orchestra from The Venetian Monastery, Op. 19 (1912-14)
  • Notte di Maggio for voice and orchestra op.20 (1913)
  • Due Canti op.21 (1913)
  • Deux chansons anciennes op.22 (1912)
  • L'Adieu à la vie , four funeral songs op. 26 (1915) for voice and piano, text: Rabindranath Thakur (Tagore) , French by André Gide
  • L'Adieu à la vie for soprano and chamber orchestra op. 26bis (1915–26)
  • Tre canzoni trecentesche op.36 (1923), text: Cino da Pistoia
  • La sera fiesolana for voice and piano op.37 (1923), text: Gabriele D'Annunzio
  • Quattro favole romanesche op.38 (1923), text: Trilusso
  • Due liriche for voice and piano op.39 (1923)
  • Tre vocalizzi for voice and piano (1929)
  • Tre canti sacri for baritone and organ op.66 (1943)
  • Tre canti sacri for baritone and small orchestra op.66bis (1943)
  • Missa Solemnis Pro Pace for solos, choir and orchestra op.71 (1944)

Stage works


  • The Venetian Monastery ( Il convento veneziano ) op.18 (1912/3) after Jean-Louis Vaudoyer
  • The large jug ( La Giara ) op.41 (1924) after Luigi Pirandello
  • The stolen picture book ( La camera dei disegni ) op.64 (1940)
  • La rosa del sogno op.67 (1943)


Fonts (selection)

  • The Evolution of Music Throughout the History of the Perfect Cadence . 2nd edition Chester Books, London 1964.
  • Igor Stravinsky . Formaggini, Rome 1926.
  • ... 21 + 26 . Olschki, Florenz 2001, ISBN 978-88-222-5014-8 (reprint of the edition Rome 1931).
  • Il pianoforte . Riccordi, Milan 1987 (reprint of the Rome 1937 edition).
  • The technology of the modern orchestra (“La Tecnica dell'Orchestra Contemporanea”). Riccordi, Milan 1961 (German edition).
  • I Segreti della Giara . (Documenti e testimonianze; 2). Ed. Sansoné, Florence 1941 (autobiography).

Composition competition

Web links

Commons : Alfredo Casella  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Honorary members. ISCM , accessed June 30, 2020 .