Alfredo Casella
Alfredo Casella was an Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

, pianist and conductor.

Life and career

Casella was born in Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

; his family included many musicians; his grandfather, a friend of Paganini
Niccolò Paganini
Niccolò Paganini was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. He was one of the most celebrated violin virtuosi of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique...

's, was first cello in the San Carlo Theatre in Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 and eventually was soloist in the Royal Chapel in Turin. Alfredo's father Carlo Casella was also a professional cellist, as were Carlo's brothers Cesare and Gioacchino; his mother was a pianist, and gave the boy his first music lessons.

Alfredo entered the Conservatoire de Paris
Conservatoire de Paris
The Conservatoire de Paris is a college of music and dance founded in 1795, now situated in the avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France...

 in 1896 to study piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

 under Louis Diémer
Louis Diémer
Louis-Joseph Diémer was a French pianist and composer.- Life :Diémer studied at the Paris Conservatoire, winning premiers prix in piano, harmony and accompaniment, counterpoint and fugue, and solfège, and a second prix in organ...

 and composition
Musical composition
Musical composition can refer to an original piece of music, the structure of a musical piece, or the process of creating a new piece of music. People who practice composition are called composers.- Musical compositions :...

 under Gabriel Fauré
Gabriel Fauré
Gabriel Urbain Fauré was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th century composers...

; in these classes, George Enescu
George Enescu
George Enescu was a Romanian composer, violinist, pianist, conductor and teacher.-Biography:Enescu was born in the village of Liveni , Dorohoi County at the time, today Botoşani County. He showed musical talent from early in his childhood. A child prodigy, Enescu created his first musical...

 and Maurice Ravel
Maurice Ravel
Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects...

 were among his fellow students. During his Parisian period, Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

, Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

, and Manuel de Falla
Manuel de Falla
Manuel de Falla y Matheu was a Spanish Andalusian composer of classical music. With Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados and Joaquín Turina he is one of Spain's most important musicians of the first half of the 20th century....

 were acquaintances, and he was in contact with Ferruccio Busoni
Ferruccio Busoni
Ferruccio Busoni was an Italian composer, pianist, editor, writer, piano and composition teacher, and conductor.-Biography:...

, Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

, and Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

 as well.

Casella developed a deep admiration for Debussy's output after hearing Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune , commonly known by its English title Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, is a symphonic poem for orchestra by Claude Debussy, approximately 10 minutes in duration...

in 1898, but pursued a more romantic vein (stemming from Strauss and Mahler) in his own writing of this period, rather than turning to impressionism. His first symphony of 1905 is from this time, and it is with this work that Casella made his debut as a conductor when he led the symphony's premiere in Monte Carlo in 1908.

Back in Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, he began teaching piano at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
The Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia is one of the oldest musical institutions in the world, based in Italy.It is based at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, and was founded by the papal bull, Ratione congruit, issued by Sixtus V in 1585, which invoked two saints prominent in Western...

 in Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. From 1927 to 1929, Casella was the principal conductor of the Boston Pops, where he was succeeded by Arthur Fiedler
Arthur Fiedler
Arthur Fiedler was a long-time conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, a symphony orchestra that specializes in popular and light classical music. With a combination of musicianship and showmanship, he made the Boston Pops one of the best-known orchestras in the country...

. He was one of the best-known Italian piano virtuosos of his generation, and together with Arturo Bonucci (cello) and Alberto Poltronieri (violin), he formed the Trio Italiano in 1930. This group played to great acclaim in Europe and America. His stature as a pianist and his work with the Trio gave rise to some of his best known compositions, including A Notte Alta, the Sonatina, Nove Pezzi, and the Six Studies, Op. 70, for piano. For the Trio to play on tour, he wrote the Sonata a Tre and the Triple Concerto.

Casella had his biggest success with the ballet La Giara, set to a scenario by Pirandello
Luigi Pirandello
Luigi Pirandello was an Italian dramatist, novelist, and short story writer awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1934, for his "bold and brilliant renovation of the drama and the stage." Pirandello's works include novels, hundreds of short stories, and about 40 plays, some of which are written...

; other notable works include Italia, the Concerto Romano, Partita and Scarlatti
Domenico Scarlatti
Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti was an Italian composer who spent much of his life in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families. He is classified as a Baroque composer chronologically, although his music was influential in the development of the Classical style...

for Piano and Orchestra, the Violin and Cello Concerti, Paganiniana
Paganiniana (Casella)
Paganiniana is a divertimento for orchestra composed in 1942 by Alfredo Casella and based on themes of Niccolò Paganini. The piece was composed to honor the centenary of the Vienna Philharmonic, which gave its premiere in March 1942, under the direction of Karl Böhm. It is in four movements:I....

, and the Concerto for Piano, Strings, Timpani and Percussion. Amongst his chamber works, both Cello Sonatas are played with some frequency, as is the very beautiful late Harp Sonata, and the music for Flute and Piano. Casella also made live-recording player piano
Player piano
A player piano is a self-playing piano, containing a pneumatic or electro-mechanical mechanism that operates the piano action via pre-programmed music perforated paper, or in rare instances, metallic rolls. The rise of the player piano grew with the rise of the mass-produced piano for the home in...

 music rolls for the Aeolian Duo-Art system, all of which survive today and can be heard. In 1923, together with Gabriele D'Annunzio
Gabriele D'Annunzio
Gabriele D'Annunzio or d'Annunzio was an Italian poet, journalist, novelist, and dramatist...

 and Gian Francesco Malipiero
Gian Francesco Malipiero
Gian Francesco Malipiero was an Italian composer, musicologist, music teacher and editor.-Early years:Born in Venice into an aristocratic family, the grandson of the opera composer Francesco Malipiero, Gian Francesco Malipiero was prevented by family troubles from pursuing his musical education in...

 from Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, he founded an association to promote the spread of modern Italian music, the "Corporation of the New Music".

The resurrection of Vivaldi
Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi , nicknamed because of his red hair, was an Italian Baroque composer, priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Vivaldi is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe...

's works in the 20th century is mostly thanks to the efforts of Casella, who in 1939, organised the now historic Vivaldi Week, in which the poet Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry...

 was also involved. Since then, Vivaldi's compositions have enjoyed almost universal success, and the advent of historically informed performance
Historically informed performance
Historically informed performance is an approach in the performance of music and theater. Within this approach, the performance adheres to state-of-the-art knowledge of the aesthetic criteria of the period in which the music or theatre work was conceived...

 has catapulted him to stardom once again. In 1947, the Venetian businessman Antonio Fanna founded the Istituto Italiano Antonio Vivaldi, with the composer Malipiero as its artistic director, with the purpose of promoting Vivaldi's music and putting out new editions of his works. Casella's work on behalf of his Italian Baroque musical ancestors put him at the centre of the early 20th Century Neoclassical revival in music, and influenced his own compositions profoundly.

Usually the generazione dell'ottanta ("generation of '80"), including Casella himself, Malipiero, Respighi
Ottorino Respighi
Ottorino Respighi was an Italian composer, musicologist and conductor. He is best known for his orchestral "Roman trilogy": Fountains of Rome ; Pines of Rome ; and Roman Festivals...

, Pizzetti
Ildebrando Pizzetti
Ildebrando Pizzetti was an Italian composer of classical music.- Biography :Pizzetti was born in Parma in 1880. He was part of the "Generation of 1880" along with Ottorino Respighi and Gian Francesco Malipiero. They were among the first Italian composers in some time whose primary contributions...

, and Alfano
Franco Alfano
Franco Alfano was an Italian composer and pianist. Best known today for his opera Risurrezione and above all for having completed Puccini's opera Turandot in 1926. He had considerable success with several of his own works during his lifetime.- Biography :He was born in Posillipo, Naples...

 — all composers born around 1880, the post-Puccini
Giacomo Puccini
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire...

 generation — concentrated on writing instrumental works, rather than the operas in which Puccini and his musical forebears had specialised. Members of this generation were the dominant figures in Italian music after Puccini's death in 1924; they had their counterparts in Italian literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 and painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

. Casella, who was especially passionate about painting, accumulated an important collection of art and sculptures. He was perhaps the most "international" in outlook and stylistic influences of the generazione dell'ottanta, owing at least in part to his early musical training in Paris and the circle in which he lived and worked while there. He died in Rome.

Casella's students included Clotilde Coulombe
Clotilde Coulombe
Clotilde Coulombe was a Canadian pianist and Roman Catholic nun. She was the sister-in-law of musician Omer Létourneau.-Life and career:...

, Maria Curcio
Maria Curcio
Maria Curcio was an Italian classical pianist who became renowned as a greatly influential and sought-after teacher. Her students included Martha Argerich, Radu Lupu, Dame Mitsuko Uchida, Leon Fleisher and Geoffrey Tozer...

, Francesco Mander
Francesco Mander
Francesco Mander, was an Italian conductor and composer.-Biography:Francesco Mander was the only son of Pietro Mander, a film producer and owner of Mander Film, and Lucia Mercadante...

, Maurice Ohana
Maurice Ohana
Maurice Ohana was an Anglo-French composer of Sephardic Jewish origin.Ohana was born in Casablanca, Morocco. He was a British citizen until 1976, as his father had been born in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. He originally studied architecture, but abandoned this in favour of a...

, Robin Orr
Robin Orr
Robert Kelmsley Orr CBE was a Scottish composer.Born in Brechin, he studied at the Royal College of Music in London and at Pembroke College, Cambridge. Following studies with Alfredo Casella and Nadia Boulanger he returned to Cambridge in 1938 as Organist of St John's College. During his war...

, Primož Ramovš
Primož Ramovš
Primož Ramovš was a Slovenian composer. He was born and died in Ljubljana.Ramovš studied at the Ljubljana Academy of Music from 1935-1941 under Slavko Osterc; following this he studied in Siena under Vito Frazzi in 1941 and in Rome with Goffredo Petrassi and Alfredo Casella from 1941-1943...

, Nino Rota
Nino Rota
Nino Rota was an Italian composer and academic who is best known for his film scores, notably for the films of Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti...

, Maria Tipo
Maria Tipo
-Biography:Tipo was born in Naples. She was taught originally by her mother, Ersilia Cavallo, who was a pupil of Ferruccio Busoni, she went on to study under Alfredo Casella and Guido Agosti.At only seventeen, she won the Geneva international piano competition...

, and Camillo Togni
Camillo Togni
Camillo Togni was an Italian composer, teacher, and pianist. Coming from a family of independent means, he was able to pursue his art as he saw fit, regardless of changing fashions or economic pressure....


Casella was married to Yvonne Müller. Their granddaughter is actress Daria Nicolodi
Daria Nicolodi
Daria Nicolodi is an Italian actress and screenwriter.- Early life and career :Daria Nicolodi was born in Florence on June 19, 1950. Her father was a Florentine lawyer and her mother, Fulvia, was a scholar of ancient languages. Her maternal grandfather was composer Alfredo Casella...

 and their great-granddaughter is actress Asia Argento
Asia Argento
Aria Asia Anna Maria Vittoria Rossa Argento is an Italian actress, singer, model and director.-Family and early life:...



  • Symphony No. 1 in B minor, Op. 5 (1905-6)
  • Italia, Rapsodia per Orchestra, op. 11 (1909)
  • Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 12 (1908-9)
  • Suite in C major, Op. 13 (1909-10)
  • Suite from the Ballet Le Couvent sur l'Eau (Il Convento Veneziano), Op. 19 (1912-3)
  • Pagine di Guerra, Op. 23bis (1918)
  • Pupazzetti, Op. 27bis (1920)
  • Elegia Eroica, Op. 29 (1916)
  • Concerto per Archi, Op. 40bis (1923-4)
  • La Giara, Suite Sinfonica, Op. 41bis (1924)
  • Serenata per Piccolo Orchestra, Op. 46bis (1930)
  • Marcia Rustica, Op. 49 (1929)
  • La Donna Serpente, Frammenti Sinfonici Seria I, Op. 50bis (1928-31)
  • La Donna Serpente, Frammenti Sinfonici Seria II, Op. 50ter (1928-31)
  • Introduzione, Aria e Toccata per Orchestra, Op. 55 (1933)
  • Introduzione, Corale e Marcia, Op. 57 (1931-5) for Band, Piano, Double Basses and Percussion
  • Concerto per Orchestra, Op. 61 (1937)
  • Symphony No. 3, Op. 63 (1939-40)
  • Divertimento per Fulvia, Op. 64 (1940)
  • Paganiniana
    Paganiniana (Casella)
    Paganiniana is a divertimento for orchestra composed in 1942 by Alfredo Casella and based on themes of Niccolò Paganini. The piece was composed to honor the centenary of the Vienna Philharmonic, which gave its premiere in March 1942, under the direction of Karl Böhm. It is in four movements:I....

    : Divertimento per Orchestra, Op. 65 (1942)


  • A Notte Alta, for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 30bis (1921)
  • Partita for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 42 (1924-5)
  • Concerto Romano for Organ, Brass, Timpani, and Strings, Op. 43 (1926)
  • Scarlattiana, for Piano and Small Orchestra, Op. 44 (1926)
  • Violin Concerto, Op. 48 (1928)
  • Notturno e Tarantella for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 54 (1934)
  • Triple Concerto, Op. 56 (1933)
  • Cello Concerto, Op. 58 (1934-5)
  • Concerto for Piano, Strings, Timpani, and Percussion, Op. 69 (1943)

Chamber and Instrumental

  • Barcarola e Scherzo for Flute and Piano, Op. 4 (1903)
  • Cello Sonata No. 1, Op. 8 (1906)
  • Sicilienne et Burlesque for Flute and Piano, Op. 23 (1914)
  • Pagine di Guerra, Op. 25 (1915) Quattro 'films' musicali per pianoforte a quattro mani
  • Pupazzetti, Op. 27 Cinque Pezzi Facili per Pianoforte a Quattro Mani (1915)
  • Cinque Pezzi per Quartetto d'Archi, Op. 34 (1920)
  • Concerto per Quartetto d'Archi, Op. 40 (1923-4)
  • Cello Sonata No. 2 in C major, Op. 45 (1926)
  • Minuet from `Scarlattiana' (1926) for Violin and Piano
  • Serenata per Cinque Instrumenti, Op. 46 (1927)
  • Cavatina and Gavotte from the `Serenata Italiana' (1927) for Violin and Piano
  • Prelude and Danza Siciliana from `La Giara' (1928), for Violin and Piano
  • Sinfonia for Piano, Violoncello, Clarinet, and Trumpet, Op. 53 (1932)
  • Notturno for Cello and Piano (1934)
  • Tarantella for Cello and Piano (1934)
  • Sonata a Tre (Piano Trio), Op. 62 (1938)
  • Harp Sonata, Op. 68 (1943)


  • Pavane, Op. 1 (1902)
  • Variations sur une Chaconne, Op. 3 (1903)
  • Toccata, Op. 6 (1904)
  • Sarabande, Op. 10 (1908)
  • Notturnino (1909)
  • Berceuse triste, Op. 14 (1909)
  • Barcarola, Op. 15 (1910)
  • À la Manière de..., Prima Serie, Op. 17 (1911)
  • À la Manière de..., Seconda Serie, Op. 17bis (1914)
  • Nove Pezzi, Op. 24 (1914)
  • Sonatina, Op. 28 (1916)
  • A Notte Alta, Poema Musicale, Op. 30 (1917)
  • Deux Contrastes, Op. 31 (1916-8)
  • Inezie, Op. 32 (1918)
  • Cocktail Dance (1918)
  • Undici Pezzi Infantili, Op. 35 (1920)
  • Due Canzoni Popolari Italiane, Op. 47 (1928)
  • Due Ricercari sul nome B-A-C-H, Op. 52 (1932)
  • Sinfonia, Arioso e Toccata, Op. 59 (1936)
  • Ricercare sul Nome Guido M. Gatti (1942)
  • Studio Sulle Terze Maggiori (1942)
  • Sei Studi, Op. 70 (1942-44)
  • Trois Pieces pour Pianola, before 1921


  • Nuageries (1903) [Jean Richepin]
  • Five Songs, Op. 2 (1902)
  • La Cloche Felee, Op. 7 (1904) [Baudelaire]
  • Trois Lyriques, Op. 9 (1905) [Albert Samain, Baudelaire, Verlaine]
  • Sonnet, Op. 16 (1910) [Ronsard]
  • Cinque Frammenti Sinfonici per Soprano ed Orchestra da Le Convent sur l'Eau (Il Convento Veneziano), Op. 19 (1912-4)
  • Notte di Maggio, for Voice and Orchestra, Op. 20 (1913)
  • Due Canti, Op. 21 (1913)
  • Deux Chansons Anciennes, Op. 22 (1912)
  • L'Adieu à la Vie, Op. 26 (1915) for Voice and Piano
  • L'Adieu à la Vie, Op. 26bis (1915/26) Quattro Liriche Funebri per Soprano ed Orchestra da Camera dal `Gitanjali' di R. Tagore [Trans. A. Gide]
  • Tre Canzoni Trecentesche, Op. 36 (1923) [Cino da Pistoia]
  • La Sera Fiesolana, Op. 37 (1923) for Voice and Piano [D'Annunzio]
  • Quattro Favole Romanesche, Op. 38 (1923) [Trilusso]
  • Due Liriche, Op. 39 (1923) for Voice and Piano
  • Tre Vocalizzi for Voice and Piano (1929)
  • Tre Canti Sacri for Baritone and Organ, Op. 66 (1943)
  • Tre Canti Sacri for Baritone and Small Orchestra, Op. 66bis (1943)
  • Missa Solemnis Pro Pace, Op. 71 (1944) per Soli, Coro e Orchestra


  • Le Couvent sur l'Eau (Il Conventno Veneziano), Op. 18 (1912-3) Ballet [J.-L. Vaudoyer]
  • La Giara, Op. 41 (1924) Ballet [Pirandello]
  • La Donna Serpente, Op. 50 (1928-31) Opera, Libretto by C.V. Ludovici after C. Gozzi
  • La Favola d'Orfeo, Op. 51 (1932) Chamber Opera, Libretto by C. Pavolini after A. Poliziano
  • Il Deserto Tentato, Op. 60 (1937) Mistero in Un Atto, Libretto by Pavolini
  • La Camera dei Disegni (Balletto per Fulvia), Op. 64 (1940) Ballet
  • La Rosa del Sogno, Op. 67 (1943) Ballet, partly after Paganiniana, Op. 65


  • The Evolution of Music Throughout the History of the Perfect Cadence (London, 1924)
  • Igor Strawinsky (Rome, 1926)
  • ...21 + 26, an Autobiography (Rome, 1931)
  • Il Pianoforte (Rome-Milan, 1937)
  • La Tecnica dell'Orchestra Contemporanea (Rome and New York, 1950)
  • I Segreti della Giara, Original Italian Edition of Casella's Autobiography (Florence, 1941)
  • Music in My Time, Autobiography, English Edition by Spencer Norton (Norman, Oklahoma, 1955)
  • plus numerous articles in musical journals


External links

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