Italian composers from the 16th and 17th centuries are revered. In the 18th century they are ridiculed. The nineteenth century sees them consigned to opera. In the 20th century, they are ignored.
That, in any case, is the version I got in my music history studies, and it’s a version I’ve heard resonate in conversations among musicians throughout my life. I’ve heard more than one colleague assert that all American composers are either French or German in bent (Pacific Rim, anyone?), by which I assume they mean formalist (German) or colorist (French).
Why don’t Italian composers get more respect in this country? I’ve often wondered.
This week I overheard the marvelous conductor Andrea di Mele describe a piece he felt particular affection for. “It is so simple, it looks like nothing on the page, and then you hear it and it is magic. Just a few strokes, but the right strokes.”
That’s not the way we tend to praise music on these shores.