Alfredo Casella

Biography

Born: July 25, 1883; Turin, Italy   Died: March 5, 1947; Rome, Italy  
Alfredo Casella was an outstanding if uneven composer who led several of his contemporaries -- Respighi, Malipiero, Pizzetti, and others -- in a struggle to modernize Italian music. His interests as a composer and as an author of articles on music were highly cosmopolitan, as may be gathered from his early enthusiasms for Debussy, the Russian nationalists, Strauss, Bartók, and Schoenberg. Yet Casella was also intensely inspired by Italian Read more culture, both its folkways and its Futurism movement.

His formal studies began in 1896 at the Paris Conservatory, under Fauré; he won first prize in piano in 1899, and soon was touring Europe and Russia as a pianist. He also began accepting guest-conducting stints in the early years of the century, a pursuit that would greatly occupy his time after World War I. But before the war the piano was his primary pastime, especially while he served as a keyboard instructor at the Paris Conservatory from 1912 to 1915. He spent most of the war back in Rome, succeeding Sgambati as piano professor at the Santa Cecilia Academy. In 1917 he founded the short-lived Società Nazionale di Musica, which produced controversial concerts of modern Italian and foreign music. Meanwhile, Casella was also one of the figures -- again, including Respighi -- pushing for a revival of Renaissance and Baroque Italian music. Beyond this, he published valuable editions of the keyboard works of J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin.

Casella spent a great deal of his time in the 1920s as a guest conductor in the United States, appearing with orchestras in Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Los Angeles; his American debut in 1921 with the Philadelphia Orchestra showcased his talents as conductor, composer, and pianist. Casella conducted the Boston Pops from 1927 to 1929, but his advocacy of modern music annoyed the public. Nevertheless, his efforts on behalf of contemporary music (including his own works) were recognized with a substantial prize from the Musical Fund Society in Philadelphia in 1928, and with the Coolidge Prize in 1934.

In 1938, Casella made the dubious decision to return to Fascist Italy, and he remained in his homeland until his death. He seems to have been one of those naive Fascists who welcomed many of the movement's reforms without understanding their full implications. His opera Il Deserto tentato praised Mussolini's Ethiopian campaign, yet Casella was married to a French Jew and promulgated the music of the "degenerate" Jewish modernist Schoenberg.

As for his own compositions, the early works, particularly his first two symphonies (1905 and 1909), were extremely modernistic for their time; that is, they were influenced by Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler (Casella even transcribed the latter's Seventh Symphony for piano, four hands). But Casella eventually settled into an energetic, spiky neo-Classicism owing much to Stravinsky and something to Ravel. This more personal style became evident with his 1924 ballet La Giara. Ironically, Casella is now remembered less for his original works than for a couple of brilliant pastiches of earlier composers' pieces: Scarlattiana for piano and orchestra, and the vibrant Paganiniana for orchestra. The true breadth of his range and interests is evident from three works, one from each phase of his career: Italia, a 1910 orchestral rhapsody based on Italian folk tunes; the neo-Classical 1925 Partita for Piano and Orchestra; and the quasi-serialist 1944 Missa solemnis pro pace. Read less
Alfredo Casella: Complete Piano Music / Michele d'Ambrosio
Release Date: 07/29/2014   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 1114830   Number of Discs: 3
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Casella: Sonatina, Etc;  Szymanowski / Easley Blackwood
Release Date: 10/07/1996   Label: Cedille Records  
Catalog: 3   Number of Discs: 1
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Casella: Complete Music For Cello & Piano / Favalessa, Semeraro
Release Date: 04/29/2014   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94823   Number of Discs: 1
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There are 64 Alfredo Casella recordings available.

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Formats & Featured

Alfredo Casella


MOST POPULAR WORKS
Lento molto, misterioso
Andante molto tranquillo e calmo, quasi adagio
Agitando e cresc, molto
Lento motlo, misterioso
Andante molto tranquillo e calmo, quasi adagio
No. 1. Canzone a ballo: Abruzzo
No. 2. Ninna nanna: Sardegna
I. Largo, ampio, solenne - Allegro molto vivace
II. Adagio: Adagio, ma non troppo. Alquanto solenne ed assai tranquillo
III. Rondo: Tempo di giga, allegro vivace, ma non troppo
I. Preludio
II. Serenata
III. Berceuse
Lento, Grave, Tragico; con molta fantasia ?
Lento assai ? Lontano ?
Allegretto grazioso, poco mosso - Lento - Sempre piu lento -
Allegro molto vivace - Festoso, con animo
I. Allegro agitato
II. Polacchetta: Allegretto moderato
III. Romanza: Larghetto cantabile amoroso
IV. Tarantella: Presto molto
I. Nel Belgio: sfilata di artiglieria pesante tedesca
II. In Francia: Davanti alle rovine della cattedrale di Reims
III. In Russia: Carica di cavalleria cosacca
IV. In Alsazia: Croci di legno
V. Nell'Adriatico: Corazzate italiane in crociera
I. Sinfonia
II. Passacaglia
III. Burlesca
I. Preludio
II. Valse diatonique
III. Canone
IV. Bolero
V. Omaggio a Clementi
VI. Siciliana
VII. Giga
VIII. Minuetto
IX. Carillon
X. Berceuse
XI. Galop final
Prelude
Valse
Ragtime
I. Sinfonia: Lento grave, allegro molto vivace
II. Minuetto: Allegretto ben moderato e grazioso
III. Capriccio: Allegro vivacissimo e impetuoso
IV. Pastorale: Andantino dolcemente mosso
V. Finale: Lento molto e grave
I. Allegro con spirito
II. Minuetto
III. Finale
WORKS
I. Vincent d'Indy: Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un ascete
II. Ravel: Almanzor, ou le mariage d'Adelaide
I. Richard Wagner: Einleitung des 3. Aufzuges
II. Gabriel Faure: Romance sans paroles
III. Johannes Brahms: Intermezzo
IV. Claude Debussy: Entr'acte pour un drame en preparation
V. Richard Strauss: Symphonia molestica
VI. Cesar Franck: Aria
Lento molto, misterioso
Andante molto tranquillo e calmo, quasi adagio
Agitando e cresc, molto
Lento motlo, misterioso
Andante molto tranquillo e calmo, quasi adagio
No. 1. Canzone a ballo: Abruzzo
No. 2. Ninna nanna: Sardegna
I. Sinfonia
II. Passacaglia
III. Inno
I. Largo, ampio, solenne - Allegro molto vivace
II. Adagio: Adagio, ma non troppo. Alquanto solenne ed assai tranquillo
III. Rondo: Tempo di giga, allegro vivace, ma non troppo
I. Sinfonia: Allegro brioso e deciso
II. Siciliana: Andante dolcemente mosso
III. Minuetto, Recitativo, Aria: Allegretto grazioso e molto moderato
IV. Canzone: Allegro giocoso e vivacissimo
I. Grazioso
II. Antigrazioso
I. Preludio
II. Serenata
III. Berceuse
Introduzione: Largo e solenne
Aria
Toccata: Allegro un poco moderato e man mano movendo
I. Introduzione
II. Corale
III. Marcia
Lento, Grave, Tragico; con molta fantasia ?
Lento assai ? Lontano ?
Allegretto grazioso, poco mosso - Lento - Sempre piu lento -
Allegro molto vivace - Festoso, con animo
I. Musica del sogno di re altidor: Andante
II. Interludio: Andante moderato
III. Marcia Guerriera: Tempo di marcia
I. Sinfonia Allegro vivacissimo
I. Preludio Lento, ma non troppo: Sempre piu ff
II. Battaglia - III. Finale Allegro vivacissimo
Ia. Preludio
Ib. Chiovu: Danza popolare siciliana
IIa. "La storia della fanciulla rapita dai pirati"
IIb. Danza di Nela
IIc. Entrata dei contadini
IId. Brindisi
IIe. Danza generale
IIf. Finale
I. Allegro agitato
II. Polacchetta: Allegretto moderato
III. Romanza: Larghetto cantabile amoroso
IV. Tarantella: Presto molto
I. Nel Belgio: sfilata di artiglieria pesante tedesca
II. In Francia: Davanti alle rovine della cattedrale di Reims
III. In Russia: Carica di cavalleria cosacca
IV. In Alsazia: Croci di legno
V. Nell'Adriatico: Corazzate italiane in crociera
I. Sinfonia
II. Passacaglia
III. Burlesca
I. Preludio
II. Valse diatonique
III. Canone
IV. Bolero
V. Omaggio a Clementi
VI. Siciliana
VII. Giga
VIII. Minuetto
IX. Carillon
X. Berceuse
XI. Galop final
Prelude
Valse
Ragtime
No. 1. Preludio
No. 2. Ninna-Nanna
No. 3. Valse Ridicule
No. 4. Notturno
No. 5. Fox-Trot
I. In modo funebre
II. In modo barbaro
III. In modo elegiaco
IV. In modo burlesco
V. In modo esotico
VI. In modo di nenia
VII. In modo di minuetto
VIII. In modo di tango
IX. In modo rustico
I. Funebre
II. Ostinato
I. Sinfonia: Lento grave, allegro molto vivace
II. Minuetto: Allegretto ben moderato e grazioso
III. Capriccio: Allegro vivacissimo e impetuoso
IV. Pastorale: Andantino dolcemente mosso
V. Finale: Lento molto e grave
I. Marcia: Allegro vivace e ritmico
II. Notturno: Lento, grave
III. Gavotta: Vivacissimo e spiritoso
IV. Cavatina: Adagio molto e sentimentale ma senza parodia
V. Finale: Vivacissimo, alla Napoletana
I. Sinfonia
II. Arioso
III. Toccata
I. Allegro vivace
II. Sarabanda: Grave, solenne
III. Finale: Tempo di marcia vivo e festoso
I. Allegro con spirito
II. Minuetto
III. Finale
I. On Major Thirds
II. On Major and Minor Sevenths
III. Legato on Fourths
IV. On Repeated Notes
V. On Fifths (Homage to Chopin No. 2)
VI. Perpetuum Mobile (Toccata)
I. Ouverture
II. Sarabande
III. Bourree
I. Lento grave solenne
II. Allegro molto vivace
III. Adagio quasi andante
IV. Finale: Tempo di marcia ben risoluto con fuoco
Epilogo: Adagio mistico
I. Allegro mosso
II. Andante molto moderato quasi adagio
III. Scherzo
IV. Rondo Finale: Allegro molto vivace ed animato


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