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Alfredo Casella (Composer, Arranger)

Born: July 25, 1883 - Turin, Italy
Died: March 5, 1947 - Rome, Italy

The Italian composer, Alfredo Casella, came from a musical family; his grandfather, a friend of Paganini's, was first cello in the San Carlo Theater in Lisbon and eventually was soloist in the Royal Chapel in Torino. Alfredo's father and two uncles, Carlo, Cesare, and Gioacchino were all professional cellists of some note; his mother was a pianist, and gave Alfredo his first lessons. He entered the Conservatoire de Paris in 1896 to study piano under Louis Diémer and composition under Gabriel Fauré, where George Enescu and Ravel were classmates. During his Parisian period, Debussy, DeFalla, and Igor Stravinsky were acquaintances, and he was in contact with Ferruccio Busoni, Gustav Mahler, and Richard Strauss as well. Casella developed an admiration for Debussy after hearing the Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune in 1898, but pursued a more romantic vein stemming from Richard Strauss and G. Mahler in his own writing of this period, rather than turning to impressionism. His first symphony of 1905 is from this time, and it is with this work that Casella made his debut as a conductor when he led the symphony's premiere in Monte Carlo in 1908.

Back in Italy during the World War I, he began teaching piano at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Alfredo Casella was one of the best-known Italian piano virtuosos of his generation, and together with Arturo Bonucci (cello) and Alberto Poltronieri (violin), he formed the Trio Italiano in 1930, which played to great acclaim in Europe and the USA. His stature as a pianist and his work with the Trio gave rise to some of his best known works, including A Notte Alta, the Sonatina, Nove Pezzi, and the Six Studies, Op. 70, for piano. For the Trio to play on tour, he wrote the Sonata a Tre and the Triple Concerto. Casella had his biggest success with the ballet La Giara, set to a scenario of Pirandello's; other notable works include Italia, the Concerto Romano, Partita and Scarlattiana for Piano and Orchestra, the Violin and Cello Concerti, Paganiniana, and the Concerto for Piano, Strings, Timpani and Percussion. Amongst his chamber works, both Cello Sonatas are played with some frequency, as is the very beautiful late Harp Sonata, and the music for Flute and Piano. Casella also made live-recording player piano music rolls for the Aeolian Duo-Art system all of which survive today and can be heard.

In 1923, together with Gabriele D'Annunzio and Gian-Francesco Malipiero from Venice, Alfredo Casella founded an association to promote the spread of modern Italian music, the "Corporation of the New Music".

The resurrection of Antonio Vivaldi's works in the 20th century is mostly thanks to the efforts of Alfredo Casella, who in 1939, organised the now historic Vivaldi Week, in which the poet Ezra Pound was also involved. Since then, A. Vivaldi's compositions have enjoyed almost universal success, and the advent of historically informed performance has catapulted him to stardom once again. In 1947, the Venetian businessman Antonio Fanna founded the Istituto Italiano Antonio Vivaldi, with the composer Gian-Francesco Malipiero as its artistic director, with the purpose of promoting A. Vivaldi's music and putting out new editions of his works. Casella's work on behalf of his Italian Baroque forebearers put him at the center of the early 20th Century NeoClassical revival in music, and influenced his own compositions profoundly.

The generazione dell'ottanta ("generation of '80", including Alfano, Alfredo Casella, Gian-Francesco Malipiero, Ildebrando Pizzetti, and Ottorino Respighi - all composers born around 1880, the post-Puccini generation - usually concentrated on writing instrumental works, rather than the operas in which Puccini and his musical forebears had specialised. Members of this generation were the dominant figures in Italian music after Puccini's death in 1924; they had their counterparts in Italian literature and painting. Casella, who was especially passionate about painting, accumulated an important collection of art and sculptures. Casella was perhaps the most "international" in outlook and stylistic influences of the generazione dell'ottanta, owing at least in part to his early musical training in Paris and the circle in which he lived and worked while there.


Symphony No. 1 in B minor, Op. 5 (1905-6)
Italia, Rapsodia per Orchestra, op. 11 (1909)
Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 12 (1908-9)
Suite in C major, Op. 13 (1909-10)
Suite from the Ballet Le Couvent sur l'Eau (Il Convento Veneziano), Op. 19 (1912-3)
Pagine di Guerra, Op. 23bis (1918)
Pupazzetti, Op. 27bis (1920)
Elegia Eroica, Op. 29 (1916)
Concerto per Archi, Op. 40bis (1923-4)
La Giara, Suite Sinfonica, Op. 41bis (1924)
Serenata per Piccolo Orchestra, Op. 46bis (1930)
Marcia Rustica, Op. 49 (1929)
La Donna Serpente, Frammenti Sinfonici Seria I, Op. 50bis (1928-31)
La Donna Serpente, Frammenti Sinfonici Seria II, Op. 50ter (1928-31)
Introduzione, Aria e Toccata per Orchestra, Op. 55 (1933)
Introduzione, Corale e Marcia, Op. 57 (1931-5) for Band, Piano, Double Basses and Percussion
Concerto per Orchestra, Op. 61 (1937)
Symphony No. 3, Op. 63 (1939-40)
Divertimento per Fulvia, Op. 64 (1940)
Paganiniana: Divertimento per Orchestra, Op. 65 (1942)

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 Cello and Orchestra, Op. 54 (1934)
Triple Concerto, Op. 56 (1933)
Cello Concerto, Op. 58 (1934-5)
Concerto for Piano, Strings, Timpani, and Percussion, Op. 69 (1943)

Chamber & Instrumental:
Barcarola e Scherzo for Flute and Piano, Op. 4 (1903)
Cello Sonata No. 1, Op. 8 (1906)
Sicilienne et Burlesque for Flute and Piano, Op. 23 (1914)
Pagine di Guerra, Op. 25 (1915) Quattro `films' musicali per pianoforte a quattro mani
Pupazzetti, Op. 27 Cinque Pezzi Facili per Pianoforte a Quattro Mani (1915)
Cinque Pezzi per Quartetto d'Archi, Op. 34 (1920)
Concerto per Quartetto d'Archi, Op. 40 (1923-4)
Cello Sonata No. 2 in C major, Op. 45 (1926)
Minuet from `Scarlattiana' (1926) for Violin and Piano
Serenata per Cinque Instrumenti, Op. 46 (1927)
Cavatina and Gavotte from the `Serenata Italiana' (1927) for Violin and Piano
Prelude and Danza Siciliana from `La Giara' (1928), for Violin and Piano
Sinfonia for Piano, Violoncello, Clarinet, and Trumpet, Op. 53 (1932)
Notturno for Cello and Piano (1934)
Tarantella for Cello and Piano (1934)
Sonata a Tre (Piano Trio), Op. 62 (1938)
Harp Sonata, Op. 68 (1943)

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)
A la Maniere de..., Prima Seria, Op. 17 (1911)
A la Maniere de..., Seconda Seria, Op. 17bis (1914)
Nove Pezzi, Op. 24 (1914)
Sonatina, Op. 28 (1916)
A Notte Alta, Poema Musicale, Op. 30 (1917)
Deux Contrastes, Op. 31 (1916-8)
Inezie, Op. 32 (1918)
Cocktail Dance (1918)
Undici Pezzi Infantili, Op. 35 (1920)
Due Canzoni Popolari Italiane, Op. 47 (1928)
Due Ricercari sul nome B-A-C-H, Op. 52 (1932)
Sinfonia, Arioso e Toccata, Op. 59 (1936)
Ricercare sul Nome Guido M. Gatti (1942)
Studio Sulle Terze Maggiori (1942)
Sei Studi, Op. 70 (1942-44)

Nuageries (1903) [Jean Richepin]
Five Songs, Op. 2 (1902)
La Cloche Felee, Op. 7 (1904) [Baudelaire]
TrLyriques, Op. 9 (1905) [Albert Samain, Baudelaire, Verlaine]
Sonnet, Op. 16 (1910) [Ronsard]
Cinque Frammenti Sinfonici per Soprano ed Orchestra da Le Convent sur l'Eau (Il Convento Veneziano), Op. 19 (1912-4)
Notte di Maggio, for Voice and Orchestra, Op. 20 (1913)
Due Canti, Op. 21 (1913)
Deux Chansons Anciennes, Op. 22 (1912)
L'Adieu a la Vie, Op. 26 (1915) for Voice and Piano
L'Adieu a la Vie, Op. 26bis (1915/26) Quattro Liriche Funebri per Soprano ed Orchestra da Camera dal `Gitanjali' di R. Tagore [Trans. A. Gide]
Tre Canzoni Trecentesche, Op. 36 (1923) [Cino da Pistoia]
La Sera Fiesolana, Op. 37 (1923) for Voice and Piano [D'Annunzio]
Quattro Favole Romanesche, Op. 38 (1923) [Trilusso]
Due Liriche, Op. 39 (1923) for Voice and Piano
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, Op. 71 (1944) per Soli, Coro e Orchestra

Le Couvent sur l'Eau (Il Conventno Veneziano), Op. 18 (1912-3) Ballet [J.-L. Vaudoyer]
La Giara, Op. 41 (1924) Ballet [Pirandello]
La Donna Serpente, Op. 50 (1928-31) Opera, Libretto by C.V. Ludovici after C. Gozzi
La Favola d'Orfeo, Op. 51 (1932) Chamber Opera, Libretto by C. Pavolini after A. Poliziano
Il Deserto Tentato, Op. 60 (1937) Mistero in Un Atto, Libretto by Pavolini
La Camera dei Disegni (Balletto per Fulvia), Op. 64 (1940) Ballet
La Rosa del Sogno, Op. 67 (1943) Ballet, partly after Paganiniana, Op. 65

The Evolution of Music Throughout the History of the Perfect Cadence (London, 1924)
Igor Strawinsky (Rome, 1926)
...21 + 26, an Autobiography (Rome, 1931)
Il Pianoforte (Rome-Milan, 1937)
La Tecnica dell'Orchestra Contemporanea (Rome and New York, 1950)
I Segreti della Giara, Original Italian Edition of Casella's Autobiography (Florence, 1941)
Music in My Time, Autobiography, English Edition by Spencer Norton (Norman, Oklahoma, 1955)
plus numerous articles in musical journals

Source: Mostly Wikipedia Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2007)

Alfredo Casella: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions & Bach-inspired Piano Works: Works | Recordings | Other Arrangements/Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Alfredo Casella (Wikipedia) [English]
Alfredo Casella (Wikipedia) [Italian]
Alfredo Casella Biography (Naxos)
Alfredo Casella (Karadar)

Alfredo Casella (
Alfredo Casella (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Personaggi: Alfredo Casella (Scula Romana) [Italian]
Alfredo Casella (NNDB)



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