Franco Sciannameo, The Journey of Phil Trajetta: From Italian Political Prisoner to Free American Citizen


Turnhout, Brepols, 2024 (Studies on Italian Music History, 20).

This new monograph synthesizes and contextualises the details surrounding the life and work of Filippo (Phil) Trajetta (Venice, 1776 – Philadelphia, 1854), son of celebrated opera composer Tommaso Trajetta (often spelled Traetta).

The volume has been designed to call the attention of musicologists and practitioners alike, to a neglected master who valiantly contributed to the development of music in America at a crucial junction in the Country’s history: the period between American post-Revolution years and the threshold of the Civil War.
The amount of literature written about music in ante-bellum America is extensive and accurate; however, Trajetta’s name and activities barely receive a cursory mention. Phil Trajetta, patriot, musician, and immigrant deserves better. His literal and existential journey from political prisoner in Naples during the fall of the short-lived Neapolitan Republic to a free American citizen, speaks volumes about his status as one among the very few fully accredited professional European musicians to establish themselves on this side of the Atlantic.
In America, Trajetta created, or was instrumental in creating, three important music schools: The American Conservatorios of Boston (1801), New York (1820), and Philadelphia (1828). The American Conservatorio of Philadelphia, which kept its doors opened for over 20 years, became Phil Trajetta’s ultimate ‘raison d’être.’
There, as the leader of the Conservatorio’s orchestra and chorus which included students, friends, and professionals, Trajetta produced his major orchestral/choral compositions, and wrote fundamental pedagogical treatises.

Franco Sciannameo, violinist, musicologist, and cultural historian studied in Rome at the Conservatorio di Musica “Santa Cecilia,” the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and later at the University of Hartford and the University of Pittsburgh. Sciannameo writes and lectures extensively on contemporary music and its relation to politics, cinema, and the arts. He has worked with several celebrated composers, including Giacinto Scelsi, Vieri Tosatti, Nino Rota, Franco Donatoni, Ennio Morricone, Franco Evangelisti, and Paul Chihara with whom he collaborated on performances and recordings. His books include Nino Rota’s The Godfather Trilogy (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010); Music as Dream: Essays on Giacinto Scelsi, edited with Alessandra Carlotta Pellegrini (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013); Experiencing the Violin Concerto: A Listener’s Companion (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016); Musicians’ Migratory Patterns: The Adriatic Coasts (New York: Routledge, 2018); Reflections on the Music of Ennio Morricone: Fame and Legacy (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2020); The Aesthetical Writings of Giacinto Scelsi edited with Alessandra Carlotta Pellegrini (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2023); Italian Film Music, 1950s-1970s: Between Tradition, Innovation, and Internationalisation, edited by Franco Sciannameo (Turnhout: Brepols, 2023). Franco Sciannameo is College of Fine Arts Distinguished Scholar & Teaching Professor of Music at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Previous articleRemapping the Classics: Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven in Spain during the Long Nineteenth Century
Next articleMax Richter: History, Memory
and Nostalgia