The Band Music of Amilcare Ponchielli
The Glory of a Bandmaster
Sulla tomba di Garibaldi was commissioned by the city council of Cremona in 1882 to celebrate the life of Giuseppe Garibaldi who was a great favorite with Cremonesi because of the involvement of the noble Trechhi family in his cause. The occasion was a secular "trigesimum" or a remembrance set thirty days after a person's death. As Ponchielli had left Cremona in 1873, he had to ask the city to provide him with a band roster in order to prepare a properly instrumented score. The band under Coppola had changed little except for the use of a flute/piccolo instead of the A-flat clarinet and the absence of the E-flat cornet played by a student. One addition Ponchielli made was to create two bombardino parts though he usually had this part doubled when he had been capobanda.
The entire work may be claasified as an "elegy." Further, the two-part, Major/Minor atructure is derived from a type of funeral march that Ponchielli developed at the end of his career in Cremona. A third device in operation is the quoting of themes from Alessio Olivieri's 1858 Inno di Garibaldi with subtle references to the poetry of the text by Luigi Mercantini. Finally, Ponchielli creates new melodies from his own great skill at bel canto. Fundamentally, Sulla Tomba di Garibaldi traces the the four verses of the Inno di Garibaldi - a fact lost to a populace that scarcely knows it beyond the first verse.
|Si scopron le tombe, si levano i morti I martiri nostri son tutti risorti, Le spade nel pugno, gli allori alle chiome, La fiamma ed il nome - d'Italia nel cor. Veniamo! Veniamo Su o giovani schiere, Su al vento per tutto le nostre bandiere, Su tutti col ferro, su tutti col foco, Su tutti col fuoco, d'Italia nel cor.||Open the graves, Raise the dead, All of our martyrs have arisen, Swords in hand, Laurels in hair, Flame and name - of ITALY in their hearts Come along! Come along you young regiments, To our flags in the wind, To all with iron, to all with fire, To all with fire, ITALY in our hearts,|
Sulla Tomba opens with the "Open the graves, Raise the dead (heroes)"; but in a minor key.
All of this is passed throughout the band from low to high and repeated. Accompanied now by pulsing triplets, the theme is bolstered by brief fanfares with a crescendo to a ringing statement of the refrain, "Go away from ITALY, At this very hour, Go away from ITALY, Go away, you foreigners."
An ambiguous transition follows in which the initial melody of the Inno di Garibaldi vacillates between Minor and Major, finally fading away to only two notes (again Minor/Major) as ominous rumblings rise from the bottom of the band. A lovely bel canto melody ensues with the low brass accompanying. A second melody (seemingly related to the refrain) transitions to the appearance of the introductory "To Arms!" ("All'armi!"):
For those familiar with some of the sources of Inno di Garibaldi, Ponchielli has chosen to use his own interpretation of the Fanfare and to greatly elaborate the dotted rhythm of the text. The Minor section of the piece ends softly with a repeat of the first bel canto melody accompanied by the clarinets. The Refrain returns three times, delineating each of the three remaining verses of the Inno di Garibaldi:
|La terra di fuori, dei suoni e dei carmi, Ritorni, qual era, la terra dell'armi Di cento catene ci avvinser la mano, Ma ancor de Legnano - sa i ferri brandir. Bastone Tedesco l'Italia non doma, Non crescon al giogo le stirpi di Roma; Pił Italia non vuol stranieri e tiranni: Gią troppo son gli anni - che dura il servir||Land of flowers, music, and poetry, Return what was the land of the armed, Release the hand from a hundred chains, But now from Legnano a hundred swords, German cudgels will not rule Italy, The Roman lineage will not live under a yoke, Italy no longer wants foreigners or tyrants: Already too many years has this endured|
|Le case d'Italia son fatte per noi, E lą sul Danubio la casa de' tuoi, Tu i campi ci guasti, tu il pane e' involi, I nostri figliuoli - per noi vogliam. Son l'Alpi e due mari d'Italia confini, Col carro di fuoco rompiam gli appennini; Distrutto ogni segno di vecchia frontiera, La nostra bandiera - per tutto inalziam.||The houses of Italy are made for us, The Danube is your home, The fields you spoil, the bread you steal, Our children - we want them for ourselves. Italy, surrounded by the Alps and two seas, With chariots of fire we break (open) the Apenines, Destroy all signs of old borders, Our flag - raised by all.|
|Sien mute le lingue, sien pronte le braccia, Soltanto al nemico volgiam la faccia, E tosto oltre i monti n'andrą lo straniero, Se tutta un pensiero d'Italia sarą. Non basta il trionfo di barbare spoglie, Si chiudan ai ladri d'Italia le soglie, Le genti d'Italia son tutte una sola Son tutte una sola - le cento cittą.||Still the tongue, Ready the arm, We will face only our enemies, And the foreigners will soon cross back over the mountains, All will be of one mind about Italy. It is not enough to strip the barbarian of his triumph, Close the thresholds of Italy to the thieves, The people of Italy are all One They are one - the hundred cities.|
The Major (Maggiore) section begins with a second bel canto melody accompanied by the low clarinets and principal low brass players. In a penultimate moment, Ponchielli softly intones the triumph of the struggle:
The final chords intone "Italy is One!":
Performances: None determined