120 Years Of Daniele Maffeis
(edited by William Limonta, Juri and Enrico Ferri)
2021 marked the 120th anniversary of Daniele Maffeis (1901-1966), a composer, organist and pianist born in Gazzaniga. For this occasion, three young creatives from Bergamo, William Limonta, Juri Ferri and Enrico Ferri, decided to join forces and their different talents to promote this important figure in music.
In collaboration with the Associazione Musicale Daniele Maffeis and with the support of the Associazione Culturale “Musica Ragazzi”, of which the three young men are members, they launched a project to invite the general public to rediscover the Maestro’s music.
In the first phase of the project, three young musicians, Riccardo Carrera, Irene Maggioni and Erica Artina, students at the “Gaetano Donizetti” Conservatory of Bergamo and also members of the “Musica Ragazzi” Association were invited to approach Daniele Maffeis’ music and perform some of his pieces.
Five videos were made of their performances in the marvellous settings of the Sala Alfredo Piatti and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Città Alta, the medieval Upper City of Bergamo, very significant places in the Maestro’s life.
These five videos are presented here below in full, together with the daily posts in Advent time on the figure and music of the Maestro.
November 22th, 2021
Everything starts here
Daniele Maffeis was born in Gazzaniga on 1st August 1901, the last of the five children of Santo Maffeis and Maria Madaschi: his father was a worker at the cotton mill and had met Maria, waitress at the tavern at the beginning of the path Contrada Bonomari. It was in this simple context that the young Maffeis grew up: in a family of workers, but rich in music lovers and musicians, band members and instrument teachers, who offered stimuli to his fine ear, attentive to the interiorization of every sound experience.
In the photo, little Daniele sits on the right next to his mother, together with other relatives.
November 23th, 2021
The places of the Master
The ancient Contrada “Bonomari” in Gazzaniga (which today is Via Dante Alighieri) joined the ancient settlement of the village centre towards the border with the village of Fiorano and the “Strada Regia postale” (Royal Postal Road), which led from Bergamo to Clusone.
It was a district of ancient origin, dating back to the 16th century, in which the countryside blended perfectly with the urbanised environment of the town.
It is in this district that Daniele Maffeis’s birthplace is located, the house where he was born and grew up, but also the house where he was always happy to return for moments of rest, even when his work as an organist and music teacher took him to spend most of his time in Milan and the surrounding area.
November 24th, 2021
The organ repertoire: a brief portrait
In this amazing musical panorama, the production for his favourite instrument, the organ, is no less.
The author’s spirit in writing stems from deep and popular melody (as in the “Piccola Pastorale”) through a simple and authentic musical discourse which on the contrary is never banal.
The ear of the faithful relies on the simple discourse that introduces the religious function and even in the most virtuoso pieces (“Spiritelli dell’organo”, “Capriccio e canone”) there is no lack of melodic care and attention that Maffeis has always had at heart.
In his personal aesthetic research, Daniele Maffeis has always looked for the direct discourse with his audience, raising the soul through his clear pieces addressed in prayer to the Most High.
In the photo,
1. detail of an inlay with an organ, on a drawing by Lorenzo Lotto, at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
2. small detail of the autograph score of the Piccola Pastorale, dedicated to his nephew Adriano
November 25th, 2021
Memories from those who knew him
Here is a short testimony by Mario Pezzotta, which appeared in the “Giornale di Bergamo” one year after the Maestro’s death (17th May 1967):
“Daniele Maffeis lives again intact in the musical works he left us, an imposing mass, the fruit of a very fervid activity, of an exuberant fantasy […].
A year after his death, his figure has become more alive, closer, instead of fading in time.
It is the privilege that honours true artists, superior men […].
He lived transported by his music, as if enraptured.
And so he was able to communicate his emotions to others […].
He was a poet of the most beautiful dreams with a child’s heart.
His religion was the substance of his life”.
November 26th, 2021
Introito for Easter
Riccardo Carrera performs Introito for Easter in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
In the first video, Riccardo Carrera performs “Introito for Easter” on the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore organ.
The Introito for Easter belongs to that repertoire composed by the Maestro for the service of the liturgy.
The Maestro himself said that he needed to follow the liturgical functions by improvising on the organ the prayers “that I feel like raising at that moment”.
Therefore, pure and noble sentiments transform and shape the sound material, upsetting it, moulding it and transfiguring it towards another dimension.
November 27th, 2021
Opera Omnia: an outstanding achievement
The idea of publishing the Opera Omnia of Daniele Maffeis was born in 1998 with the establishment of the Associazione Musicale Daniele Maffeis in Gazzaniga (Bergamo), his hometown.
Association’s statutory purpose is to research, revise, publish, and disseminate the entire musical heritage left almost entirely unpublished.
Maestros Pieralberto Cattaneo and PierAngelo Pelucchi drew up the printing plan, which was divided into 18 tomes divided into 39 books.
The publication of the glorious heritage was completed in 2012 when the official presentation took place in Sala Piatti in Città Alta.
In 2001 all the material belonging to Daniele Maffeis (newspapers, critical pieces, brochures, prints, personal cards and letters, etc…) and, in the gradual progress of the prints, even the autograph manuscripts of the music, were donated to the “Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai” in Città Alta, a leading institution in the cultural world, for proper and careful custody and possible use.
The essential publication of Daniele Maffeis’s entire musical repertoire has contributed and continues to contribute to making his creative genius known beyond the borders of Italy and to expand the audience for his music.
The tenacity and great willpower of his nephew, Adriano, Curator of the Opera Omnia, has monumentalized the production of the composer Daniele Maffeis, giving its life to the world.
In the photo, Adriano Maffeis, Curator of the Opera Omnia, during an interview
November 28th, 2021
This rare recording of a performance by Daniele Maffeis was made in 1960 and was published on a CD by the Daniele Maffeis Association in 2001, on the centenary of his birth. The Maestro ability to improvise on the organ, his instrument of choice, was well known, and he often used it to enrich the religious services in the churches where he served both as organist and choirmaster.
November 29th, 2021
The first steps in music (between Gazzaniga and Bergamo)
From his primary school days, little Daniele Maffeis showed his first inclinations towards music. Therefore, the family decided to entrust him to the lessons of Pietro Zaninari, organist of the parishes of Fiorano and Albino.
After a couple of years, his limited fame as a pianist led him to a more suitable path: studying and attending courses at the Conservatory of Bergamo from 1914.
To avoid the discomfort of travelling, young Daniele was found accommodation in the upper town, in the house of Don Celestino Mazzucotelli at Seminarino.
Daniele Maffeis was thus able to practise the piano, studying for the lessons he was to take with Maestro Alessandro Marinelli at the Conservatory.
In the photo, the little Daniele at the piano with Don Celestino Mazzucotelli
November 30th, 2021
The Maestro’s places
The Gaetano Donizetti Music Institute was located in Città Alta, in Via Arena. It was a reference point for many musicians who worked in the Bergamo area, from great chapel masters such as Agostino Donini to famous teachers such as Maestro Alessandro Marinelli. Daniele Maffeis entered the latter’s piano class in 1914, showing great talent and musicality from the very beginning.
From the recollections of Daniele Maffeis himself, here is a brief description of the atmosphere at the school: “In the school, one could read, on a small picture hanging on a nail, the words that Gaetano Donizetti left written: Music is nothing but declamation accented by sounds, and therefore every composer must intuit and make a song arise from the accent of the declamation. Whoever does not succeed or is not happy will not compose music that changes in sentiment”. Years later, the Maestro would return to his Institute as an organ teacher.
In the photo, the entrance to the historical seat of the Conservatorio in Bergamo
December 1st 2021
The piano repertoire
Daniele Maffeis has always had an intimate relationship with the piano. Adriano, the Maestro’s grandson, remembers: “When I was a child, every so often during the night, I would wake up because, in the nearby room, I could hear the sound of the piano … it was easy to hear notes: he probably couldn’t sleep and would try out some cues on the instrument”.
Daniele Maffeis’s piano production can be divided mainly into two periods: the youthful period (around the 1930s, linked to a particular scholastic formalism, as in “Canto d’amore” or in the “Sonata in C minor”), and the post-war period, in which the Maestro’s most intimate production can be identified: there is no lack of sincere homage to his homeland (such as the Suite “Schilpariese” or the Sonata “San Felice al Lago”), references to the world of childhood (such as the 4-handed Suite “Giocattoli di una bambina”), and the composer’s work in the post-war period.
In his production, there are also pieces characterised by considerable virtuosity, such as the “10 Variations on the Chorale from the opera Le tre notti di Luce”, or simple transcriptions and re-elaborations of other pieces (for example: “Meditazione”, from the original for organ; “Intermezzo lirico from the original for string orchestra).
In the photo,
1. Daniele Maffeis’s piano in his home in Gazzaniga
2. a little detail of the autograph score of the Suite Schilpariese
December 2nd 2021
This is how the editorial staff of the dialect newspaper ‘Giopì’ paid tribute to the Maestro on 26 February 1966:
“A man of great simplicity of life and profound humility, he was also an authentic personality in the field of music […] The religious aspect of his music greatly refined the spirit of the artist, whose exquisite sensitivity and tender affection his relatives and pupils could always enjoy […] Kindness and generosity, virtues that he exercised to the highest degree gave him wings towards the free skies of both musical and literary compositions”.
In the photo, a silhouette of the Maestro, realized by his friend Adriano Armetti
December 3rd 2021
Canto d’amore: a youthful jewel
Daniele Maffeis’s “Canto d’amore” for piano belongs to the Maestro’s first production when, still a student at the Conservatory, he was trying his hand at style exercises from the school of the past.
This limpid romance draws directly on Felix Mendelssohn’s famous collections of wordless romances, in which the sinuosity of the line stands out clearly against a more straightforward accompaniment.
The harmonies used by Maffeis are skillfully stitched together in a personal style that makes the romance no longer a simple study but an authentic little gem.
In the photo, detail of the autograph of “Canto d’Amore”.
December 4th 2021
Daniele Maffeis and Don Ambrogio Palestra: a great friendship
In 1936, Daniele Maffeis became chapel master at the Basilica of S. Maria Nuova in Abbiategrasso, where he enjoyed great success with the composition of his first mass “Mariae Nascenti”.
The following year, he accompanied the celebration of the first mass of the new assistant of the S. Luigi Oratory, Don Ambrogio Palestra. To the new priest, Maffeis soon showed his passion for educating young people and, discovering his pedagogical projects, soon established an understanding, destined to become a great friendship.
Maffeis composed his famous Operettas (such as ‘Il Pellegrino Bianco’), short didactic-pedagogical plays aimed at the very young, on Palestra’s libretto”.
In the photo, Maffeis with his friend Don Ambrogio Palestra
December 5th, 2021
Irene Maggioni performs the “Canto d’amore” in the Alfredo Piatti Hall, Bergamo.
The “Love Song”, for piano, belongs to the Maestro’s first production when, still a student at the Conservatory, he was trying his hand at exercises of style on the school of the past.
This limpid romance refers directly to Felix Mendelssohn’s famous collections of wordless romances, in which the sinuosity of the line stands out clearly against a more straightforward accompaniment.
The harmonies used by Maffeis are skillfully stitched together in a personal style that makes the romance no longer a simple study but an authentic little gem.
December 6th 2021
Between Varese and Busto Arsizio
A few years have passed since Daniele Maffeis entered the Bergamo Conservatory and then continued his studies at the Milan Conservatory.
After his diplomas in Organ and Composition, in 1927 he was entrusted with the chair of piano at the Istituto Musicale “Pergolesi” in Varese. He also collaborated with the city as a composer, writing the “Missa Regina Ordinis Minorum” for the Sanctuary of Sant’Antonio da Padova alla Brunella.
At the same time, until 1932, he taught piano at the “Rossini” Institute in Busto Arsizio, also giving concerts that were greatly appreciated.
These were his first experiences in the Milanese environment, to which Maffeis would remain bound for the rest of his life.
In the photo, a youth Daniele Maffeis
December 7th 2021
The Bishop’s Seminary of Venegono
Towards the end of the 1930s, Daniele Maffeis was offered piano, organ and harmonium professorships at the Bishop’s Seminary in Venegono.
The Seminary, whose origins date back to the time of Carlo Borromeo, became over the centuries the main point of reference for all the Milanese clergy, especially with the Faculty of Theology set up during the 20th century by Cardinal Schuster followed by Cardinal Colombo.
Daniele Maffeis devoted himself for thirty years not only as a teacher but also as choirmaster, organist and composer (writing crucial works such as “Pentecoste”, “La note scende”, the “Cantata in onore di San Carlo” and “Dio degli eserciti”).
In the photo, Venegono Seminary
December 8th 2021
From the recollection of Don Francesco Bonalancia
published in the Gazzaniga Parish Bulletin in March 1966:
“I still have him here in front of me with his white hair spread over his broad forehead in the manner of the ancient artists, with his serene and witty eye, with his open smile, with his easy speech like that of a child, deep, wise and persuasive, the fruit of an uncommon culture”.
December 9th 2021
The vocal-instrumental repertoire: an emblem of versatility
Daniele Maffeis, since his first production, has been particularly interested in the close and inseparable relationship between literary text and music: his multifaceted cultural attention has led him to take an interest in the learned texts of authors close to him.
The most conspicuous repertoire is that of lyrics, generally for voice and piano: it is the most intimate repertoire, in which the author’s profound sensitivity is perfectly linked to the chosen text, highlighted through mature writing that comes close to the experiences of the Italian school of those years. This production includes, among others: “La tomba del poeta” (on a text by Fogazzaro), “Roma imperiale” (on a text by Carducci), “Advesperascit” (on a text by Tullia Franzi, a friend of the composer).
In addition to the lyrics, the choral pieces are worthy of mention. Maffeis’s writing becomes sharper and clearer, even coming close to popular writing, which is a tribute to his homeland and acts as a “cultural background” to Maffeis’s musical origins. Highlights include “La mia baita” (for male choir), “Lamento ed Elegia sulla tomba di Barabau” (for mixed choir), “Il fuoco” (madrigal for 4-voice choir).
Last but not least, it is worth highlighting the more evidently “popular” production, in which Daniele Maffeis makes use, among other things, of dialectal text: we mention “Lusiroel e Stell” (on a text by Luigi Medici from Milan) and “La musica del Giopì” (on a text by Giacinto Gambirasio from Bergamo).
December 10th 2021
Among the poems that Daniele Maffeis wrote in his later years, Advesperascit, on a text by the poetess Tullia Franzi from Alzano, is worthy of note.
The text, of a sacred nature, expresses the faithful’s fear of waiting for the evening, the fear of losing the comfort of God.
The convoluted line of the voice, together with the thrusting and extremely refined harmonies, make this piece a poetic unicum in Maffeis’s highest line of expression.
In the photo, Tullia Franzi together with the Vate Gabriele D’Annunzio
December 11th 2021
The Daniele Maffeis Association
Established in 1998, the Daniele Maffeis Association has always been committed to disseminating and promoting the great musical heritage of Daniele Maffeis.
Strongly supported by Adriano Maffeis, it was created as part of the great work of publishing the Opera Omnia of the repertoire composed by the Maestro during his lifetime.
Over the years, the Association has organised and participated in numerous initiatives of various kinds, some of which we would like to mention here.
The first performance of the “Daniel Propheta” Mass in April 2000 in Gazzaniga, a major concert by the Fondazione Orchestra Stabile di Bergamo at the Donizetti Theatre in Bergamo in October 2001, an event on the occasion of the donation of all the composer’s documents (with talks by experts and the performance of some pieces) at the Angelo Mai Library in October 2005.
In May 2012, at the Sala Piatti, the Associazione Daniele Maffeis was proud to announce the completion of the Opera Omnia, followed by a concert and presentation of the book “L’Archivio di Daniele Maffeis, un patrimonio da rivivere” (The Daniele Maffeis Archive, a heritage to be revived).
In the photo, the experts M° PierAngelo Pelucchi, Prof. Angelo Bertasa, M° Pieralberto Cattaneo, Prof. Giancarlo Landini during the presentation of the book “Daniele Maffeis’s Archive, a heritage to relive
December 12th 2021
The soprano Erica Artina performs “Advesperascit”, with piano accompaniment by Irene Maggioni.
Among the lyrics that Daniele Maffeis wrote in his late production, ‘Advesperascit’ was composed to a text by the poetess Tullia Franzi, a native of Alzano Lombardo (BG).
A writer, poet and composer herself, Tullia Franzi took part in the Fiume enterprise with Gabriele d’Annunzio and was later a Latin, Greek, and art history teacher.
A friend of Daniele Maffeis, she was artistically very close to him.
The text, of a sacred nature, expresses the faithful’s fear of waiting for the evening, the fear of losing the comfort of God.
The convoluted line of the voice, together with the thrusting and extremely refined harmonies, make this piece a poetic unicum in Maffeis’ highest line of expression.
December 13th 2021
Father of four grandchildren
During the Second World War, Daniele Maffeis’s work commitments became more intense due to his family’s difficulties: in 1940 his brother Lorenzo died prematurely, so Daniele had to support his four young grandchildren (Lucia, Fernando, Mario and Adriano).
Being busy on the Milanese side of the family, he only returned to Gazzaniga on festivals and summer holidays. On these occasions, he proved to be more than a loving father. Here is a testimony by his grandchildren Lucia and Adriano from 1987: “Sometimes he would accompany us to the Serio river and, to play a bit of a joke, he would tell us that in the summer the fish made sweet eggs and he would convince us to look for them among the stones in the river bed. We ended up sucking all the rocks to find the sweet ones. In fact, in some places, Uncle Daniele would put sugared almonds that looked like pebbles, bought a short time before from the grocer. When we tested them and realized that they were sweet, we felt great pleasure and believed the story”.
In the photo, Daniele Maffeis with his brother Giulio and his sister Teresina
December 14th 2021
In October 1957, Daniele Maffeis became the titular organist of the very central parish of San Satiro in Milan, thus deepening his ties with Monsignor Palestra, who had become provost of the church.
The Mascioni organ became the instrument with which the composer would enchant the public with his improvisations and proposals for his music.
Monsignor Palestra, sometime after the Maestro’s departure, recalled: “At the organ he felt completely at ease, docile to his inspiration, the thousand orchestral possibilities of the noble instrument, of which he knew every technical secret, to make it vibrate, groan, roar and rumble with his masterly touch”.
In the photo, the interior of the church of San Satiro in Milan with the famous fake choir painted by Donato Bramante
December 15th 2021
The great Operette season
A critical production that distinguishes the work of Daniele Maffeis from other composers of his time is that of the Operette. This didactic-pedagogical genre kept the Maestro busy from 1937, in close collaboration with a friend and esteemer, Monsignor Ambrogio Palestra, for the text.
The first operetta was composed for the Christmas celebration of the Oratorio San Luigi di Abbiategrasso. Monsignor Palestra used an ancient Nordic Christmas legend as a reference for his libretto, which, thanks to the composer’s skilful art of stitching together fitting soundscapes and simple but at the same time compelling melodies, immediately became a great little masterpiece.
Thus was born “’Il Pellegrino Bianco” (The white Pilgrim).
Other operettas followed: “I tre fanciulli nella fornace ardente” (The Three Children in the Burning Furnace) from 1939-40, “Il flauto del re” (The King’s Flute) from 1942, “Il cantore danese” (The Danish Singer) from 1945, “Il gatto con gli stivali” (Puss in Boots) from 1950-51 and finally “I Mortulaghi” (The Mortulaghi) from 1951.
The operettas, in addition to the didactic and pedagogical purpose of the libretto, were an opportunity for conviviality and cooperation between the children who were part of the Oratory and their families.
In the photo, … some shots taken from recent performances of the Operettas “Il Pellegrino Bianco” (December 2012) and “Il flauto del re” (May 2013)
December 16th 2021
In a letter addressed to Daniele Maffeis’s family, his friend and painter Adriano Armetti recalled:
“I can only testify that he was a pure soul and therefore he was naive, shy of all intrigue and baseness, capable only of love, content to have a serene soul and a heart in peace for having carried out his mission with seriousness. I could write about the beautiful days, the sad days, the days of youth, of enthusiasm, of faith and illusions in others, of hopes in life and, with maturity, of hopes in Death, which for him is certainly not Nothingness”.
December 17th 2021
The ‘Suite Schilpariese’
The ‘Suite Schilpariese’ is Daniele Maffeis’s last piano work. Written in 1955, it was inspired by an outing the composer took part in with some friends: “I was the guest of a centuries-old family, where one can still find that simplicity in manners. Providence keeps the grandmother, queen of the house, still full of life and fresh in her mind, a piano enthusiast. Seventy-five years old! Then I promised her to write some music about the beautiful pine forest and her Schilpario”.
The Suite consists of six movements:
I. Chatting in the pinewood
II. Benwi and Terry put on a show
IV. A military flourish in the pinewood
V. At the small church
VI. At the source of the Dezzo
The spirit in which Maffeis pays homage to his land is clearly expressed, with simple but at the same time refined harmonies, while the melodic lines play in a constant contrast between irony and absolute rigour.
In the photo, some pages tratte dall’autografo della Suite
December 18th 2021
Vassal of the Duchy of Piazza Pontida
Daniele Maffeis was always interested in culture in various forms, from classical to popular.
Among the different facets of his multifaceted personality, one can even discover original qualities as a writer, characterised by a sober style, aimed at the concrete but at the same time lively and colourful.
His articles were published in the periodical of the Duchy of Piazza Pontida (“Giopí”) in the column “Divagazioni Musicali”, where he became a close collaborator from 1962 and a friend of the director Luigi Gnecchi, finally becoming Vassallo del Ducato. In these spaces, Daniele Maffeis highlighted his views on music in general and on aspects contemporary to him.
Here are his words about art, published in the article of 29th September 1963: “If art were as free as the lark that hovers in the pure air and always rises, there would be fewer constraints on the one hand, and on the other, there would be less pressure on the artist. If art were as free as the lark that hovers in the pure air and always rises, there would be fewer constraints on either side, fewer commissions, fewer millions for the trappings of art”.
In the photo, Piazza Pontida in Bergamo, seat of the omonimous Duchy
December 19th, 2021
Incontro, from the Schilpariese Suite
Irene Maggioni performs the “Incontro”, the third movement of the “Suite Schilpariese”, at the piano.
The “Suite Schilpariese” is part of the Maestro’s last piano production.
Written in 1955, it draws its inspiration from a trip to Schilpario, in Val di Scalve, in which the composer took part together with some friends: “I was a guest of a centuries-old family, where one can still find that simplicity in manners.
Providence still keeps the grandmother, the house queen, a piano enthusiast, full of life and fresh in her mind. Seventy-five years old!
Then, I promised her to write some music about the beautiful pine forest and her Schilpario”.
The spirit in which Maffeis pays homage to his land is clearly expressed, with refined yet straightforward harmonies, while the melodic lines play in a constant contrast between irony and rigour.
December 20th 2021
In Sotto il Monte by Card. Roncalli
In 1958, during the summer holidays, Daniele Maffeis was invited by his friend and violinist Mario Ferrante to spend a day at his house in Sotto il Monte, where he had the opportunity to meet again Cardinale Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli.
Here are the words of the Maestro who recalls the event, in an article of the “Giopì” of 1962: “Our conversation was immediately warm, friendly, just like at the time of the ‘Casa dello Studente’. […] I was able to talk about a theatrical work of mine on Jacopone da Todi. His Eminence smiled at my enthusiasm. He was very pleased with the subject and found it interesting, so much so that he wanted me to send him the script soon… ‘let the month of September pass as I have to make the pastoral visits, we will see each other in October, and I am also waiting for you for my Church…’”.
Unfortunately, Roncalli’s (and Maestro Maffeis’s) wish could never be fulfilled: shortly afterwards, he was called to Rome for the election of the new pontiff. On 28 October 1958, it would be he that would ascend the throne of Peter, with the name John XXIII.
December 21th 2021
Between art and music
Since the middle of the last century, the ‘Beato Angelico’ School of Art in Milan has been a reference point for all those who approach sacred art.
Daniele Maffeis joined it as a teacher and composer from 1940 until 1955.
In this productive and stimulating cultural environment, he got to know and work with numerous artists.
In particular, the Friulian painter Ernesto Bergagna experimented with forms of a multimedia concert, where the music served to enhance the effect of the graphic visual image and vice versa. The result of this collaboration was the symphonic poem ‘Symphonicum nova et vetera – Litanie’, a large organ polyptych in which the composer comments on the statements of the Marian Litanies.
In the photo, a lesson at the Beato Angelico
December 22th 2021
Anthy and the opera repertoire
Daniele Maffeis, in his immense versatility, succeeded in imposing himself in every genre he experimented with, offering admirable pages of extraordinary depth.
In addition to the great Operette season, his production can also be seen in the opera repertoire, with three titles: “Il Maestro Smania” with libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni; “Le tre notti di luce” with libretto by Giovanni Mari and lastly “Anthy”, with libretto by Carlo Fontana.
Only the first one, ‘Il Maestro Smania’, was performed in concert form in 2013 at the Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo after the author’s death.
Here we will briefly focus on the Maestro’s last opera, ‘Anthy’, written between 1935 and 1937 when he lived in Milan.
The opera drama has as its declared source the novel ‘Anthy, il romanzo di Rodi’, by the Roman writer Guido Milanesi.
Here is a brief synopsis: set on the Greek island of Rhodes, the play tells the story of Anthy, a young girl who had been a slave of a Turkish colonel. She falls in love with Lieutenant Enzo Sangardi, but a dark omen soon overshadows the tender idyll: Enzo must leave to fight a battle and, beset by uncertainty, is afraid he will not be able to take his beloved with him. The wait for Anthy is terrible: her anxiety is comforted by the presence of an orthodox priest, Pope Kiriasis, who consoles her. Until one day a letter, probably a cruel joke, informs Anthy of the victory of the Turks and the sinking of Enzo’s ship. Before Roberto, Enzo’s comrade-in-arms, and Papa Kiriasis arrive to tell Anthy the happy news of her beloved’s return, she throws herself off a cliff in despair.
Maffeis’s melodies, imbued with an intense cantabile, bend to underline the various situations in a solid, tense crescendo. There are also characteristic elements of the setting, such as the singing of the Muslim ‘muezzìn’, military marches or the funeral procession in the second act, many frescoes of the popular character inserted into the intimate context of this musical drama.
In the photo,
1. the title page of Milanesi’s novel “Anthy”
2. il librettista dell’opera, Carlo Fontana
December 23th 2021
The “Piccola Pastorale”
The “Piccola Pastorale”, for organ, is a great little gem written by Daniele Maffeis at the end of the 1940s and dedicated to his nephew Adriano, who in the future will be the Curator of the Maestro’s Opera Omnia.
Maffeis was, for his little nephew, “like a father”: there are so many memories that link the Curator of the Opera Omnia to his beloved uncle, whom he continues to remember with immense affection.
The intimate and delicate character of the composition plays a leading role: the melodies, of a widespread nature, blend with a profound and highly refined harmonic study, creating a whole that is splendidly connected with the spirit of the piece itself.
Emanuele Carlo Vianelli, the organist of Duomo di Milano, recalls: “At Christmas, at the end of Midnight Mass, I always play Maffeis “Piccola Pastorale”…in short, a beautiful tribute that never ceases to amaze.
December 24th 2021
The Little Pastoral
Riccardo Carrera performs the “Piccola Pastorale” on the organ of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Città Alta.
The “Piccola Pastorale”, for organ, is a great little gem written by Daniele Maffeis at the end of the 1940s and dedicated to his grandson Adriano, who will be the Curator of the future Maestro’s Opera Omnia.
The intimate and delicate character of the composition dominates: the melodies, popular in style, blend with a deep and highly refined harmonic research, creating a splendidly connected whole with the spirit of the piece itself.
Emanuele Carlo Vianelli, the organist of Milan Cathedral, recalls: “At Christmas, at the end of Midnight Mass, I always play Maffeis’ Little Pastoral”.
The five videos were made by Juri Ferri, William Limonta and Enrico Ferri with the precious support of the Cultural Association “Musica Ragazzi” of Osio Sopra.
Photography and editing: Juri Ferri
Audio recording: Paolo Guerini
Special thanks to MIA – Congregazione della Misericordia Maggiore di Bergamo – for the use of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Sala Alfredo Piatti.