Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherinilogocs

Research in Musicology


Brepols Publishers

Massimiliano Sala and Massimiliano Locanto

The Contemporary Composers Series focuses both on living composers and those who left their mark on the 20th century, leaving a significant legacy to the history of contemporary music. By studying their lives, their writings, and their musical output as well as its reception, the series aims to extend the scope of research with the express purpose of investigating not only the so-called contemporary “classical" composers, but also those who worked in the emerging musical genres of the 20th and 21th century: Jazz, Film Music, Popular Music, etc. The series will encompass monographs and miscellaneous volumes on select individuals, with a particular focus on their relationships to the environment in which they lived and worked.


Vol. 1 - John Williams. Music for Films, Television, and the Concert Stage, edited by Emilio Audissino, Turnhout, Brepols, 2018
(Contemporary Composers, 1), pp. xxiv+440, ISBN 978-2-503-58034-0.

Once mostly considered a commercial composer and a mere rewriter of previous composers’ styles, only recently – and quite belatedly – Williams’ music has begun to be taken seriously, and scholars from the music and the film departments have begun to produce research in the form of books, journal articles, conference papers, and Ph.D. theses. Once dismissed as a 'plagiarist', Williams is now seen and lauded as an acute 'paraphraser', to cite a recent paper by James Orosz. Even if some foundations have indeed been laid, much work is still to be done. This is the moment to consolidate what can be called the 'John Williams Studies'. The present volume seeks to build upon, complement and review what has been written so far on Williams.
The volume is edited by Emilio Audissino, author of John Williams’s Film Music. Jaws, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the Return of the Classical Hollywood Music Style (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014, http://uwpress.wisc.edu/books/5229.htm), the first book in English on John Williams. This previous monograph – mainly as a work of film historiography – aimed at tracing the film career of John Williams in connection with the legacy of the 1930s and 1940s composers of the Hollywood Golden Age. This edited collection is designed as a larger exploration of the many sides of Williams's output, aimed at showing the range of his production (not merely focussing on film music) and at analysing the depth of his dramaturgic and compositional skills with selected case studies. To accomplish this exploration – which has not the pretence of exhaustiveness but certainly that of being an accurate survey possessing both latitude and depth – a large team of international scholars has been assembled from all around the world. The contributors come from film, media and music departments – to provide a variety of disciplinary perspectives on Williams's work. There are chapters that zoom in on single streaks of his production – the musicals, the music for television, jazz, the concert music... – and other that focus on case studies that not only include the most celebrated films – Star Wars, E.T. The Extraterrestrial, Harry Potter... – but also understudied film scores like Munich, A.I. Artifical Intelligence, Angela's Ashes, War of the Worlds. Some of these chapters stems from a musico-formalist approach (the detailed analysis of the Violin Concerto, that of the leitmotiv network in the Star Wars films...), others adopts wider and less text-centred views, based on the dramaturgic coupling of images and music (the chapter on A.I.),on the narrative functions of the music (the villain themes in Williams's scores), on the psychology of musical perception (the Munich chapter), or on media/seriality studies (film music as a brand). A chapter also explores the presence of Williams's film music in the concert programmes.
To complement this selection of seventeen essays from academics and scholars/composers, two esclusive interviews. Here the focus is on the performer's viewpoint: how is it to play John Williams's music? The first interview is with the music director and principal conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra Keith Lockhart, who succeeded to John Williams as the leader of this famed musical institution. The second interview is with the piano recitalist Simone Pedroni – a recipient of the prestigious Van Cliburn Gold Medal – who has always played Williams's music in his concert programmes alongside that of the canonical composers, and has recently released a CD of piano transcriptions of Williams's film music. 


Vol. 2 - Giacinto Scelsi: Music Across the Borders, edited by Federico Celestini

The opening of the archive of the Isabella Scelsi Foundation in Rome in 2009 has facilitated new research perspectives on the work and the significance of the Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi (1905 – 1988). Together with documents, letters, notes, Giacinto Scelsi’s private library and record collection, the tapes with recorded material played by Scelsi that were used to write his musical scores are now accessible. It has thus been possible to commence a substantiated analysis of Scelsi’s compositional processes over the last few years. Hence, it is now the right time to produce a larger publication, in which recent results and new approaches can be documented and presented to interested readers. The leading musicologists acquainted with Scelsi’s work are to be involved in this proposed volume. The book will commence with an introduction, in which the main lines of the musicological discourse on Scelsi shall be presented and discussed. The book will then focus on three main thematic areas. The first section is dedicated to the exploration of Scelsi’s aesthetics. Scelsi’s development of a particular concentration of sound in his works from the late 1950s onwards is strongly connected with his studies of the music traditions of extra-European cultures (Reish). In this section, the implications of Scelsi’s anomalous compositional process are to be explored on the basis of the recorded tapes: the concepts of ‘work’, ‘improvisation’, ‘transcription’ need to be questioned and newly defined in this context. At the same time, the constellation between Scelsi and his assistants is the object of investigation here. In this section, it becomes evident that the crossing of borders mentioned in the title is not only of a cultural nature, but is also conceptual. In the central and most extended part of the book, Scelsi’s works are discussed chronologically and by type. In his compositions for solo instruments, Scelsi could work directly with interpreters. Thus, an oral tradition originated that transcends the score, and is jeopardized over the course of time. The large orchestral and choral works are more strongly dependent on the scores and employ more traditional compositional techniques. They also demonstrate Scelsi’s focus on the aspects of sound most clearly. Scelsi, who mostly composed for unusual combinations of instruments, composed several works for string quartet over the course of many years. These works are also the object of investigation.. The piano works of the middle period and the early works are also discussed here. Essays on the analysis and performance of Scelsi’s works complete this section. In the last part of the book, Scelsi’s reception is thematized. Musicologists from different cultural areas will comment on the impact of Scelsi’s music in various compositional landscapes in the first decades of the 21st Century and also discuss aspects of Scelsi’s reception. In this final section, there will also be an essay about the Scelsi Archive and its role in research on Giacinto Scelsi (Pellegrini).

Vol. 3 - The Theatres of Sylvano Bussotti, edited by Daniela Tortora

Fifty years ago there was the première of Sylvano Bussotti’s La Passion selon Sade in Palermo during the fifth edition of “Settimane Internazionali Nuova Musica” (September, 5th 1965). La Passion selon Sade is the first theatrical work of Sylvano Bussotti, the first of a long and very impressive list of operas. The theatrical bent of the Florentine composer has never been interrupted since then; it has been developed through many phases (among them, the well known Bussottioperaballet) and it has included a lot of arts, texts, languages, artists, musicians, performers, choreographers and dancers, mimes, actors, producers and theatres: all of that is a very big heritage from which it is possible to draw both from an historical and from a operating point of view. The first monographic book about “The Theatres of Sylvano Bussotti” will concern all the theatrical activity of Sylvano Bussotti since La Passion selon Sade until today, including cinema, theatre and artistic management of lyric theatres.