UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Piano music in Italy during the fascist era Di Bella, Karin Maria


This thesis investigates Italian instrumental music (specifically piano music) during the two decades between the two World Wars, the period of Italian fascism under Mussolini's rule. After two centuries of opera domination in that country, instrumental music, especially an up-to-date brand of it, was sorely lacking. A number of composers recognized this need and began to effect changes in the instrumental music scene, some with more success than others. Most of these composers are not well known to the general music public today. The pressing question is, to what extent the fascist government and its culture had an effect on the development of music during this period. Were there Italian bureaucratic equivalents to those sanctioned by the Nazis in the world of art? What was the extent of musical censorship? Did the fascist regime influence the music of the composers writing under it? Is there a musical style which can be labelled "fascist"? In order to answer these questions, the proper context must be presented. In the first chapter the history of fascism is explored, followed by a general survey of music and its particular development and influences during the first half of the twentieth century. The remaining chapters (3-8) explore the contributions of the major composers in Italy active during fascist rule, with special emphasis on the piano work s of these composers. Chapter 9 presents Conclusions. Works for analysis were chosen from the entire period of 1919 to 1944, and represent different compositional camps, from the conservatives (Respighi and Pizzetti) to the progressives (Casella and Malipiero), the older generation (the 1880's generation) to the younger (Dallapiccola and Petrassi), and one Jewish study (Castelnuovo-Tedesco). Aside from the analysis of the works, sources for the study were books, articles, and theses in English and Italian. Results of the study reveal there to be no direct effect of fascist policies on the music of the period under its rule. Not only was there no coherent basis of stylistic censorship (apart from racial bans on Jewish composers beginning in 1938, regardless of style), but, consequently, there does not exist a fascist musical style nor specific compositional traits. The music evolved rather independently, resulting from Italian music's peculiar historical position.

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