Luigi Dallapiccola (1904 - 1975)

The Italian composer Luigi Dallapiccola was born and spent his childhood in Istria, now part of Croatia and a meeting-point of cultures. He studied music in Trieste and was among the first Italian composers to absorb the principles of Schoenberg and to make continuing use of the latter’s serial techniques. In the 1950s Dallapiccola established closer ties with the United States, where he undertook teaching assignments, with performances of his works throughout the Americas.

Stage Works

In Germany and later in Italy Dallapiccola met politically inspired opposition, although his 1937 one-act opera Volo di notte (‘Night Flight’), based on Saint-Exupéry’s Vol de nuit, had performances in both countries. His ballet Marsia dates from 1943. In 1950 his opera Il prigioniero (‘The Prisoner’) was staged in Florence, to be heard also in Germany, as Italy regained something of her pre-war position in contemporary music. Other stage works are Job, a sacred representation based on the Book of Job, and Ulisse, which had its premiere in Berlin in 1968.

Vocal and Choral Music

Dallapiccola’s earlier vocal music includes works based on the Finnish Kalevala. After the war his Canti di prigionia (‘Songs of Imprisonment’), with texts based on Mary Queen of Scots, Boethius and Savonarola, was heard at an ISCM festival in London, marking the post-war readmission of Italy to the international organisation.

Orchestral and Chamber Music

Dallapiccola’s Variazioni for orchestra of 1954 is an orchestral version of the Quaderno musicale di Annalibera for piano of 1952, a work reflecting a refinement of the composer’s applications of serialism. His other piano music includes his Sonatina canonica, based on the Caprices of Paganini. He wrote two Tartiniana, the first for violin and chamber orchestra, and the second for violin and piano.