NEL BICENTENARIO DELLA MORTE:
NUOVE PROSPETTIVE DI RICERCA
Ore 10.30 circa
Ore 12.00 circa
Ore 16.15 circa
Ore 16.45 circa
Ore 12.00 circa
CONGRESS PROCEEDING (di Matteo Giuggioli)
On the occasion of the celebration of the bicentenary of Luigi Boccherini’s death (1743 - 1805), an international study congress entirely dedicated to the figure and works of this Tuscan composer was held in Cremona, at the Sala Puerari of the Museo Civico, on 7th and 8th May 2005. The congress, coordinated by Marco Mangani (Pavia - Cremona), was organized by the association Tuscan Musical Treasures with the contribution of the Walter Stauffer Foundation and under the scientific patronage of the Department of Musicological and Paleographical-Philological Sciences of the University of Pavia.
Among the participants were both long time scholars of Boccherini, committed since long ago to the opening of new perspectives of research on the composer, as well as scholars who have come across this track more recently or as a side issue to other study pursuits.
The two days of work were articulated in three sessions dedicated respectively to three fundamental aspects of the research on Boccherini: life and sources, reception, music.
After the opening by prof. Maria Caraci Vela, Director of the Department of Musicological Sciences, the first session started. It was composed by four speeches aimed at showing the presence of still very uncertain areas in the biography of the musician and at dismissing myths and commonplaces generated from historiographical mistakes, thanks to the acquisition of new documents and to the consideration under new light of the already known facts.
Jaime Tortella (Barcelona) exposed a series of these mistakes, myths and legends, proposing punctual hypothesis of solution or confutation. Among the main ones, that of the so-called “obscure decade” of Boccherini (1787 - 1796), which according to the scholar the musician spent entirely in Madrid, together with the myth of the supposed poverty of the musician.
The speech by Germán Labrador (Madrid) clarified the relations between Boccherini and the Spanish Court during the monarchies of Carlo III and Carlo IV; Labrador corrected the biographical tradition which described them as clouded by the indifference of Carlo III and the manifest hostility of Carlo IV to the composer, but especially by the intrigues of the mean and envious court musician Brunetti.
Starting from an enquiry on the only sources available on the nocturnes op. 38, i.e. the printed editions by Pleyel, Maria Teresa Dellaborra (Pavia) contributed to shed light on other debatable and uncertain points of Boccherini’s biography and poetics, together with his personal and professional relations with the French publisher and his approach to composing. Furthermore, she has offered a precious hypothesis of solution to another area of darkness in the musician’s letters and biography, by proposing the likely identification of Monsieur Boulogne, character appearing in the exchange with Pleyel and whose identity was still clothed in mistery, with the Director of the "Concert des Amateurs" in Paris.
Marco Mangani developed his speech from the papers on the dealings between the composer and the publisher, in order to demonstrate the real nature of the "autographed" catalogue by Boccherini. This can be consulted in the version published in 1879 by the composer’s grand-nephew Alfredo Boccherini y Calonje, up to today considered as the main source to establish the chronology and the work numbers of his compositions. The catalogue is taken in its real dimension of working tool, far from the mythical aura of ideal autobiography of the composer built on the punctual and constant recording of his creative activity.
Three speeches on reception made up the second session of works.
Giacomo Fornari (Bolzano) outlined a broad overview on problems connected to the reception of instrumental music in Italy in the second half of the 1700s. He set Boccherini within this picture, as a typical example of Italian composer of instrumental music, forced to look for his fortune abroad. He showed the wonderful welcome reserved to his character and works by the Rivista contemporary to him, especially in the German area, where there had already developed an independent esthetical consciousness of instrumental music.
Barbara Nestola (Versailles) was committed to exploring how some legends in Boccherini’s biography have arisen and how his figure was known in France during the 19th century through encyclopedic and specific dictionaries, fundamental tools for the diffusion of culture.
Gabriella Biagi Ravenni (Pisa) illustrated another chapter of Boccherini’s reception, by analyzing the traces of memory of the composer in Lucca, starting from the moment when he definitely abandoned the city. In Lucca the knowledge of his character and the opinion according to which high honours should be offered to his figure was diffused, but only a limited circle of competent people had the interest in conserving and diffusing his music. The speech ended with a sensational documentary discovery. Following a track starting from the environment of musicians and music lovers in Lucca, the scholar managed to find a manuscript of the letter sent by Boccherini from Breslau to the Marquis Lucchesini, Lucca Ambassador in Berlin, a document fundamental in establishing the issue of the musician’s possible trip to Prussia, up to now only known through a German translation of the end of the 1800s, whose authenticity had always been doubted. The newly recovered testimony has fired a lively discussion among the scholars present at the congress and it obviously requires to be cautiously considered, as we are yet lacking a study determining its authenticity and consequently Boccherini’s paternity.
At the end of the session was held a round table (moderator Marco Magani), with the presentation of interesting projects, some of which are already being implemented, on various aspects of research and divulgation of Boccherini’s work. First was the introduction by Gabriella Biagi Ravenni, who talked about the current constitution in Lucca of a committee dedicated to the celebrations for Boccherini; then Piero Gargiulo (Parma), presented the project ITMI (Indici della Trattatistica Musicale Italiana, Indexes of Italian Music Treatises); Carlo Ipata (Pisa), introduced the project of discographical diffusion of Boccherini’s music on account of the Association Tuscan Musical Treasures; Roberto Illiano (Cremona) and Fulvia Morabito (Cremona), illustrated the general plan and the results obtained within the project for the publication of the Opera Omnia by the composer; Mari Tvedt (Oslo),exposed her work on the composer, developed for the Swedish Radio.
The third session, dedicated to music, saw the succession of two contributions. Timothy P. Noonan (Milwaukee) talked of the musical borrowings in the symphony ‘La casa del diavolo’ (G 506) by Boccherini, which in the final part includes a passage of the ballet by Gluck ‘Don Juan ou le festin de pierre’ and explicitly quotes the title and author of his model. The speech ended with some observations on the relations between the structure of the symphony and Mozart’s works, in the picture of a wide analysis on the diffusion of Don Juan’s myth in many musical genres in the world. Christian Speck (Koblenz - Landau), author of fundamental studies in this field, proposed a further enquiry on the quartet writing by Boccherini, with the aim of outlining the structural constants and the specific stylistic trait and understanding the position in relation to the production of Viennese “classicals”, in the analogous instrumental genre. On the basis of a very detailed analysis initially focused on the first movement of the quartet in C major Op. 33 nr. 2, he demonstrated that we can track down a constructive principle in Boccherini’s style as for metric regularity, seen the almost total absence from the composer’s work of proceedings characteristic of the “classical” style, as for example the motive development.
The congress, considered the intensity of the scientific contributions, as well as the liveliness of the discussions which followed every talk, appeared as a clear sign of the fervid interest which finally enlivens the research on Boccherini, still very far from the time of assessment.