Dr. Thomas M. Cimarusti, Musicologist

CONFERENCE ABSTRACTS

 

Paper Title: "'Good Old Boccherini': the Reception of Luigi Boccherini's Chamber Music in 19th-Century America." First International Conference on Luigi Boccherini, Lucca, Italy (Palazzo Ducale), 5-7 December 2011.


By 1765, five years following his appointment as cellist in the Cappella Palatina of Lucca, the Tuscan-born Luigi Boccherini had already established a fine reputation as a composer of chamber music, and whose works were “entirely in a new manner.” Engagements in Vienna, Lucca, Pavia, Cremona, Genoa, and London clearly indicate a most active schedule, one which often brought the composer into contact with such dignitaries as Leopold I, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia, and King Carlos III. In spite of that success, some scholars have claimed that the performance of Boccherini’s music was neglected following the composer’s death in 1805. An examination of early nineteenth-century American periodicals, however, appears to tell a different story. Although the performance of Boccherini’s music may in fact have been eclipsed by compositions by other more acclaimed composers in the nineteenth-century American concert hall (e.g., Mozart and Haydn), a number of American periodicals, including Dwight’s Journal, The Message Bird, The Boston Musical Gazette, and The Visitor make reference to a number of successful performances of Boccherini’s music in the nineteenth century. In the Boston Musical Gazette, one anonymous author refers to the composer as “Good Old Boccherini” - undoubtedly a phrase indicating the composer’s familiarity and popularity to a rather nascent American musical culture. The purpose of this paper then is to trace the reception history of Boccherini’s chamber music in nineteenth-century America via music periodicals and journals, thereby illuminating Boccherini’s success in reaching an international audience outside European lands.

 

 


 

 

Paper Title: “Case Studies of Three Music Information Acquisition Models: Google Scholar, PRIMO, and Select Subject Specific Bibliographies.” Co-author: David Day. Joint Session - International Musicological Society/International Association of Music Libraries, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 5-10 July 2009.

 

Over the past several years, online databases have become increasingly popular among students conducting musicological research. In seconds numerous articles, books, monographs, letters, and analyses can be retrieved electronically without ever having to consult printed sources. Consequently, online databases have become a convenience, often resulting in “bibliographic holes” due to the lack of printed materials not otherwise found online. This paper is a preliminary study of how students interact with online databases and print sources. Approximately eighty students from Georgia Southern University, Texas Tech University, Indiana University, Brigham Young University, and Arizona State University were assigned to research one of two topics (“Performance Practice in Verdi’s Otello” and “An Analysis of Berg’s Violin Concerto”) and to compile a 10-item bibliography using Google Scholar, PRIMO, and four chosen print sources (Harwood’s “Verdi: a Research Guide,” Marco’s “Opera Guide,” Hoek’s “Guide to Musical Analysis,” and Lindeman’s “Bibliography of the Concerto”). Following the completion of the bibliography, students completed a brief survey on their reaction, usefulness, and usability of the resources they consulted. The intent of the research is to: (1) ascertain if the students can retrieve adequate or comparable research from these different means of information access, and (2) examine student response about the resources consulted (i.e., could they understand the interface, were the resulting sources acceptable in their mind, did the index help them understand the value of the source). Preliminary findings may help answer other questions: have students become more comfortable with electronic databases? How well do bibliographic export programs work? And to what degree do such databases add or detract from the most current research available?

 

 


 

 

Paper Title: “Political Rhetoric in 19th-Century Italian Song: a Case Study During the Risorgimento.” International Conference on Romanticism, Lubbock, TX, 11-13 November 2010.

 

In her introduction to a 1941 article on Italian song, scholar Bettina Lupo justifiably deplores the lack of research regarding the history of Italian vocal forms in the nineteenth century. Although the article was published nearly seventy years ago, scholars still have given little attention to a genre that arguably played an important role in Italy’s artistic, political, and social sphere. The reasons for this are many. Historians have casually dismissed the nineteenth-century Italian song, claiming that it is far too inferior to the genre’s German and French counterpart to be studied in great depth. Others have grossly claimed that nineteenth-century Italian song did not exist. The purpose of this paper, then, is two-fold: first, to expose a rich and varied tradition of Italian art song settings, thus providing a glimpse into a world apart from nineteenth-century Italian opera (or as one scholar states, “the ubiquitous monster”) and a window into the intellectual salons outside of Germany and France; and second, to highlight one of Italy’s most prominent song composers before Tosti, the Tuscan-born Luigi Gordigiani, a figure who established himself as the only Italian song composer in the early to mid nineteenth century who found great success not only in Italy but among an international audience. Interestingly, Gordigiani achieved such acclaim during a time of Italy's political turmoil (i.e., the risorgimento) with such songs as "I tre colori," "Il vessillo benedetto," and "Le tre nazioni" - all of which make explicit references to Italy's fight for unification. The focus of my paper will draw from nineteenth-century journals, sheet music covers, and settings of politically-charged risorgimento poetry by Gordigiani, suggesting that Italian song was used, like Italian opera, as a means to transmit political rhetoric.