Tuesday 12 October 2021

A chance to hear Alfredo Casella's Concerto for Orchestra next week, performed by the Kensington Symphony Orchestra

Alfredo Casella
Alfredo Casella
The Italian composer, pianist and conductor Alfredo Casella (1883-1947) had a remarkably varied career. He was one of the generazione dell'ottanta (generation of '80), which included Casella himself, Malipiero, Respighi, Pizzetti, and Alfano; composers born around 1880, the post-Puccini generation who concentrated on writing instrumental works, rather than operas. 

Coming from a musical family (his cellist grandfather was a friend of Paganini, his father, mother and brothers were all musicians) he studied composition at the Paris Conservatoire with Faure, where Enescu and Ravel were fellow students and he became acquainted with Debussy, Stravinsky and Falla. From 1927-1929 he as the principal conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra (to be succeeded by Arthur Fiedler whose name is indelibly linked to the Boston Pops). As a composer his biggest success was with his ballet La Giara to a scenario by Pirandello! And his organisation of a Vivaldi Week in 1939 helped to kick-start the renaissance of Vivaldi's music in the 20th century. His grand-daughter was the actress Daria Nicolodi, and his great-grand-daughter is actress Asia Argento.

Next week there is a chance to hear Casella's 1937 Concerto for Orchestra which was written for the 50th anniversary of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam; an appealing work, rigorously constructed and brilliantly orchestrated.

Russell Keable conducts the Kensington Symphony Orchestra in Casella's Concerto for Orchestra alongside Helen Grimes' Everyone Sang (2010) and Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 1 at St John Smith's Square on Monday 18 October 2021. Full details from St John's Smith Square website.

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