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7 - Verdi's “Music of the Future”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2014

Roberta Montemorra Marvin
Affiliation:
University of Iowa
Craig A. Monson
Affiliation:
Professor of Musicology at Washington University (St Louis, Missouri)
Roberta Montemorra Marvin
Affiliation:
Teaches music at the University of Iowa
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Summary

In late December 1870 Verdi was invited to serve as director of the Naples Conservatory. Although he declined the “honor” for numerous reasons, the invitation provided an opportunity for him to verbalize his ideas on the subject of what and how aspiring Italian composers should be taught. One of his letters on the topic, to the Neapolitan archivist and librarian Francesco Florimo, dated January 5, 1871, was published (with the composer's permission) in Italian journals, thereby making Verdi's thoughts public. The following excerpt conveys the essence of Verdi's position: “I would be proud to occupy that post, where the founders of a school sat: A. Scarlatti, and later [Francesco] Durante and [Leonardo] Leo. It would have made me proud (and at this point it would not have been a step backward) to exercise the students in those serious, rigorous, and, in this instance, renowned studies, of these early fathers. I would have insisted, as it is said, on putting one foot in the past, and the other in the present and in the future, for I am not afraid of the music of the future.” Three essential points emerge here: Verdi's recommendations and cautions to young composers for rigorous study of traditional techniques, his adamance about progress in music requiring a synthesis of past and present, and his asserted willingness to confront new trends, i.e., the “music of the future.”

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Chapter
Information
Music in Print and Beyond
Hildegard von Bingen to The Beatles
, pp. 158 - 179
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2013

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