The Politics of Verdi's Cantica treats a singular case study of the use of music to resist oppression, combat evil, and fight injustice. Cantica, better known as Inno delle nazioni / Hymn of the Nations, commissioned from Italy's foremost composer to represent the newly independent nation at the 1862 London International Exhibition, served as a national voice of pride and of protest for Italy across two centuries and in two very different political situations. The book unpacks, for the first time, the full history of Verdi's composition from its creation, performance, and publication in the 1860s through its appropriation as purposeful social and political commentary and its perception by American broadcast media as a 'weapon of art' in the mid twentieth century. Based on largely untapped primary archival and other documentary sources, journalistic writings, and radio and film scripts, the project discusses the changing meanings of the composition over time. It not only unravels the complex history of the work in the nineteenth century, of greater significance it offers the first fully documented study of the performances, radio broadcast, and filming of the work by the renowned Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini during World War II. In presenting new evidence about ways in which Verdi's music was appropriated by expatriate Italians and the US government for cross-cultural propaganda in America and Italy, it addresses the intertwining of Italian and American culture with regard to art, politics, and history; and investigates the ways in which the press and broadcast media helped construct a musical weapon that traversed ethnic, aesthetic, and temporal boundaries to make a strong political statement.
Contents: Introduction; Verdi’s Cantica: behind the scenes; The public face of Verdi’s Cantica; Toscanini’s ’weapon of art’; Toscanini’s film: voices of protest and veiled messages; Appendices; Bibliography of sources consulted; Index.
This series was originally supported by funds made available to the Royal Musical Association from the estate of Thurston Dart. Its purpose is to provide a medium for specialized investigations of a topic, concept or repertory - studies of a kind that would not normally be feasible for commercial publishers and that would be too long for most periodicals.