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Thread: B.D. rd. 1: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco

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    Senior Member Mark Harwood's Avatar
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    Default B.D. rd. 1: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco

    Please Don’t Throw Me & My Music Out of the Balloon Just Yet
    By
    Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

    Hello.
    I'm Mario.



    From the1920s until the 1960s I wrote large-scale pieces based upon great works of literature, The Bible, and my Jewish heritage. My output has been described as prodigious, complex, and lyrically enchanting; perhaps it is not for me to pass comment, but in the interests of remaining with the balloon I invite you, gentle reader, to listen to any of those extended pieces and to be enchanted. There being too many to list in this, my first missive, I trust that any shall serve.
    One day in 1932, my wife Clara, being in Venice, found herself travelling on the same ferry as the great Andres Segovia. The Maestro spoke to her about his wish that I would compose for the guitar. I wrote expressing my desire to write something for him, neither knowing the instrument nor how to compose for it. In return Segovia sent me two pieces which demonstrated the guitar’s capabilities: Sor’s Variations on a Theme of Mozart, op. 9, and Ponce’s Variations on Folia de España and Fugue.
    Thus began our relationship. I composed for the guitar from 1932 to 1967, writing concertos, chamber music, music for choir and guitar, for flute and guitar, guitar duos, and solos. My first offering to Segovia was Variations à Travers les Siècles. This includes references to Schubert, Bach, modern dance and jazz.. On receiving the work, Segovia wrote back to say, ‘It is the first time that I have met a musician who understands immediately how to write for the guitar.’
    On 3 April, 1934, Segovia travelled to Florence to give the Italian premiere of Variations à Travers les Siècles. It was after this event that Segovia first requested that I write a sonata in four movements. I then set about composing my Sonata, Omaggio a Boccherini, op. 77. This was premiered by the great man at the same recital as the premiere of his arrangement of Bach’s Chaconne (from the Partita in D minor, BWV 1004).
    This was followed in 1935 by Capriccio Diabolico (Omaggio a Paganini). Aranci in fiori (‘Orange Blossom’) was dedicated to Aldo Bruzzichelli, a close friend. When Bruzzichelli’s son had influenza, I supplied oranges, considered then to be one of the best cures. Bruzzichelli later became the dedicatee of Platero and I, op. 190.
    In 1937, after a recital by Segovia in Geneva, a critic wrote that Segovia would be ‘a great artist even if he played J’ai du Bon Tabac, the item in question being a mere trifle. Segovia complained to me about the attitudes of critics. In reply I wrote a set of variations for guitar entitled Variations Plaisantes sur un Petit Air Populaire, op. 95, J’ai du Bon Tabac and sent it along to the critic. The movements were headed by words such as ‘sneezing’, ‘groaning and jerky’, ‘smug and conceited’, ‘plaintive and monotonous’, and ‘quite agitated’, with a final variation entitled ‘L’inévitable Fugue’. I believe there is a place for humour in music.
    Late in 1938 I began work on a guitar concerto, which was finished in 1939. The result was a work which has proved popular ever since, especially in terms of recording. The cadenzas were tailor-made for Segovia to impress the audience with the guitar’s lyricism. The work was premiered in Montevideo, Uruguay on 28 November, 1939. Segovia performed it many times over the next few decades. The Gramophone, reviewing a recording in August, commented as follows:
    “This novel concerto opens with a most fascinating tune...the rest is very light, easy going and melodious, but it is pleasant to have this romantic vehicle to display Segovia’s magical art. He begins the slow movement alone with a tune of Neapolitan flavour, and plays so beautifully...”
    Subsequent works have also proved enduringly popular; they include Quintetto, op. 143, for guitar and strings, and Fantasia, op. 145, for guitar and piano, written for Segovia and his second wife, the pianist Paquita Madriguera.
    Rondo, op. 129, and Suite, op. 133 , are two virtuosic solo works, which somehow have not become well known. Also destined to fall slightly by the wayside were a 1943 composition, Serenade, op. 118, for guitar and orchestra, and a Concerto no. 2, op. 60, for guitar and orchestra.
    Segovia did me the honour of performing Platero y yo, extracts from which are popular on currently-available recordings, and a Tonadilla on the Maestro’s own name.
    In more recent years I have dedicated solo pieces to a wide variety of first-rank performers. My ensemble pieces have been numerous and generally very well-received, as my intention is to delight the ear and the mind with the potentials and possibilities of this wonderful instrument.
    I hope that I have provided substantial pieces for the guitar, whilst continuing to write for many other instruments and ensembles.
    In short, my plea for mercy in this first stage of the contest is based upon my long partnership with the Maestro, by means of which we helped to develop the guitar’s repertoire and reputation to something resembling the levels that is deserved by the instrument of the Gods.
    "Music is a social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."
    - Malcolm Arnold.

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    Senior Member PostMinimalist's Avatar
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    Thank you Mario for that delightful plea. It's great to have you on board. I knew nothing at all about you until now! Good luck with the trip!
    FC

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    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    That's a very modest, affecting plea. Thanks Mario. A pleasure to make your acquaintance.

    (What are you carrying under your arm, by the way?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by post-minimalist View Post
    Thank you Mario for that delightful plea. It's great to have you on board. I knew nothing at all about you until now! Good luck with the trip!
    FC
    seconded!!!

    I've always liked the sound of classical guitar, and I've never heard any of your work. Should I just pick a piece you listed or is there one that is a good starter/into work into your music?

    Bob

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elgarian View Post
    (What are you carrying under your arm, by the way?)
    I imagine it's a score.

    I very much like your plea for salvation, sir!

    WV
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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