Fascist Disenchantment and the Music of Goffredo Petrassi
Macaluso, Alessia Angela Elda
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Goffredo Petrassi (1904-2003) was one of many Italian composers who navigated the period of Italian Fascism from the height of its following to its demise. He celebrated the early years of the regime through music, and benefitted from prestigious official appointments. From this, he was able to shape and implement cultural policy, and enforced some of the regimes coercive laws upon the musical world. After the alliance between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany in 1939, particularly when Italy entered the Second World War, he used music to express his disillusionment. Petrassi is regarded as one of the most significant composers of his generation, yet few writings in English address the Fascist era itself in terms of music, much less the development of Petrassis compositional style within its socio-political framework. This dissertation contends that political events influenced Petrassis aesthetic journey, and that his initial support of and eventual opposition to the regime found expression in his works. Petrassi believed that art was always a spiritual autobiography (autobiografia spirituale). Hence, the methodology uses primary sources, musical analysis, and comparisons with composers such as Luigi Dallapiccola (1904-1975) to authenticate that Petrassis unique sound was a product of musical influences adapted to the shifting politics of Fascism. With a focus on choral music, particularly on Petrassis choice of texts, musical selections are contextualized in relation to socio-political circumstances of the years 1930 to 1950. After Fascism, Petrassis work captured his search for spiritual revival and artistic reinvention. His response to modernity is examined, as is his effort to compose alongside the avant-garde, which began an artistic struggle within him. Drawing on autobiography, personal writings, interview transcripts, as well as my own interviews, I present a fuller picture of Petrassi than is currently available, as he negotiated phases of the political regime in order to survive and maintain some personal integrity. Accordingly, this dissertation validates Petrassis music as an expression of his inner and outer worlds, and contributes to the understanding of Petrassis creative evolution as he responded to new currents in composition during one of the least studied periods of Italian musical history.