Friday, September 9, 2016

Guy Graybill Presents Magnificent Gift to the History of Music, and, in particular, Italy...

This book is dedicated to the memory of St. Cecilia

This is not a technical work. It is an historical survey, written as an appreciative tribute to the overwhelming, and unrivaled, contributions which the Italian people have made to music...

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) This classical composer has been saddled with a nickname, based on his hair color: Prete rosso ("The Red Priest"). One of the giants of classical music. Vivaldi was born in Venice and went on to teach in a girls' orphanage, and continued to be associated with that institution for most of his life. Meanwhile he was pouring forth hundreds of operas, concertos, etc., for all of his adult life. His most noted piece of music is a concerto entitled "The Four Seasons."
If one listens to his music--his trumpet and other concertos, operatic passages, forerunners of the symphony, and other works, a conclusion begins to build in the mind: Vivaldi borrowed the style of W. A. Mozart. The lilting passages and sprightly tunes can almost convince the listener that this Venetian violin virtuoso and skilled composer borrowed a technique or two from Leopold's son. One could be fully convinced of this if one fact didn't stand in the way: their vital dates. As noted above, Vivaldi's life span covered the years 1678 to 1741, while Mozart's life extended from 1746 to 1791. If borrowing ocurred,it would have been done by "Wolfi."
New Anthem for an Ancient Land... It may strike one as strange that Italy, which once formed the core of a sprawling, vibrant empire--and which provided the world with a cornucopia of dazzling music--had no national anthem until "yesterday"! Such can be the results of historical vagaries.
...Finally, in 2005, Michele Novaro's The Song of the Italians, was officially declared to be the Italian National Anthem.

The Case for Italian Musical Mastery

By Guy Graybill
Foreword by Frank Tenaglia

This is the version I used to sing and is my favorite...Isn't it Beautiful?!

Author Guy Graybill, a regular contributor to Book Readers Heaven, recently published the second edition of his most important book, in my opinion. I had read the first edition six years ago. There are some changes and additions to the text; however, I realized that it was my own reading and review of the book that had changed. I realized that my present review blog requires a much deeper absorption in what is being presented and my expansion beyond a basic review had greatly matured in those past years. I'm happy to bring to you a larger sampling of the book than normal, for it is only in sharing and listening to the music that we are able to learn and comprehend what Graybill has provided for us...

First, Graybill is a historian, which is readily seen in the significant breadth of this book. That was of course required because of the breadth and diversity of the field of music which he has presented to us. He provides documentation not only on the voice and instruments, but on all of the evolution of their use into the music which, as his title claims, the Italians mastered and shared with the world. The book also includes relevant pictures, a bibliography, and the very important index for this type of book which will, undoubtedly be used for students and those involved in professions surrounding music.

Throughout the period of time that the europeans identified as The Middle Ages...the main objective of music was a way to respond to religious inspiration. The main religious musical form was the plainsong or chant, a simple, nearly tuneless song used to accompany hymns, psalms and prayers where the words are not metrically expressed (or not written to fit even moderately complex tunes).

Dividing his book into "Acts" instead of chapters was one of the little additions that added to the overall effect of the book for readers. For instance, Act III begins the narrative on the historical review of musical instruments.

Like me, many readers may have heard of the family Stradivari, but Graybill's storytelling adds much to those that were also making violins during that time, and even brings readers up to date on what has developed in this area during the recent past, even mentioning a film made in 1998, The Red Violin, which spotlights the place the violin has achieved in the world of music...

It is a logical move from learning of the instruments to learning of those geniuses who conquered them. We begin with "Paganini, the Peerless."

Graybill then moves on to the Piano and other instruments created at that time and quickly into the whole component of these beautiful creations as part of the orchestra, where he spotlighted that Claudio Monteverdi had emerged as the father of the modern symphony orchestra... And also as Opera's first genius...

,,,regarding the first great operatic composer: In March of 2007, Italy observed the 400th anniversary of opera. This observation was not based on the production of the first opera, Peri's Dafne, but on the first widely-accepted operatic work, Monteverdi's Orfeo.

Act IV announces "The Deluge" that began, noting that the result was History's greatest commingling of the intellect and the emotion that resulted in the creation of classical music. And classical music was born on the Italian peninsula... and would you believe it? Music's first Superstar! Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, born in the mid-1520s! He wrote in musical forms of Mass, Motet,  Magnificat, Offertory, Lamentation, Litany, Hymn as well as Madrigal!
The author next delves into and provides short biographical sketches on the exceptional (most popular and/or influential) operatic composers, which of course is just a small selection of the many composers of the day. Vincenzo Bellini happens to be the first listed, including Il pirata as an example of his work.

He then proceeds on to the most well known operatic singers, starting with Giacomo Puccini. Along with him are others who you may recognize including Luciano Pavarotti, Ezio Pinza and Enrico Caruso, among others...

Act XI comes into the more recent contributions such as the Father of the Jazz Guitar/Violin, Salvatore Massaro, Mario Lanza, Frank Sinatra and so many more...

I'm sharing only a sample of my favorites because of the number!

And, of course, my personal favorite Italian singer...

I hope you've enjoyed this broader exploration of Guy Graybill's book. I am sure you all know when and why I will use his title to actually compliment his magnificent gift of musical history... Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! By now, I am sure you are quite confident that I am highly recommending this to all...and as a must-read for musical students and professionals!