• The Glory of a Bandmaster

    The Glory of a Bandmaster

Fantasia per tromba sopra motivi dell'opera La Traviata, Op. 146, PP.143.3

The Fantasia per tromba sopra motivi dell'opera La Traviata is today the most popular of all of the band pieces by Ponchielli. Previously known from a copy for cornet solo made by Francesco Belforti, the discovery of an autograph score in the Milan Conservatory has allowed the editor to produce a critical edition. The provenance of the Milan score is unknown, and was disclosed the same day the editor discovered the true story of this piece in the pages of the local newspaper, Corriere cremonese. In spite of the cornet score being produced mere days before the premiere of the trumpet version, there is no no mention of a cornet soloist (Achille Bissocoli) in any of the public announcements. Various solo works based on La Traviata for flugelhorn and cornet were performed from the beginning of the band in 1865; however, none of them can be ascribed to anyone at all. There was a set by Rossari that were identified in 1870. Another mystery is that an 1880 catalog lists the Fantasia for trumpet, but the score that has the catalog number (144) was written on the copy in Belforti's hand. The cornet version was likely prepared by Belforti for Bissocoli in response to Giuseppe Cesura departing Cremona. Thus the date on the score is spurious - its most likely date was after 1873. As a further aside, the Milan premiere of La Traviata took place during the 1853-4 winter season at La Scala, so Ponchielli might have heard it while still a student at the Milan Conservatory.

The greatest mystery surrounds "Pasciuti." Only one person with this surname is listed in Marino Anesa's wonderful Dizionario della musica italiana per banda. There is a "Lodovico Pasciuti;" however, his 1857 birthdate means he would have been twelve at the time of this composition. The catalog of 1880 omits his name altogether. Even more confusing is Ponchielli reversing the honor of authorship to Pasciuti in the final performance. In the autograph score and the other programs, Ponchielli lists himself first. In the autograph score, Ponchielli describes the score as a "riduzione" or arrangement. Also, please note the "different" name in the autograph program. Such an event is especially common in the reporting of pieces that were programmed often. The supposition is that Ponchielli did not refer to the score after turning it over to the band's copyist. As a prodigy, he likely carried the score's content in his memory. The newly edited solo part is here.

Fantasia per tromba sopra motivi dell'opera La Traviata

The table that follows lists the sources from the original opera for every quote. Further, each character is identified by their own personal lines. There is a great deal more going on here than meets the eye. The love story is re-told from its lowest point to the moment of its inception. Aside from the band arrangement, Ponchielli seems to have contributed the variations that occur in two places as well as the very long, instrumental cadenza at M. 250. There is a willingness to experience the most troubled moments of the love affair along with its most redeeming. Whoever Pasciuti was, his little "essay" on Traviata is a profound analysis of one of Verdi's best operas.

FantasiaVocal ScoreUrtext ScoreText in ItalianText in English
Measures Schirmer/Ricordi U-Chicago and Ricordi G- Germont V- Violetta A- Alfredo C- Chorus
1-47 161 313 [G]Oh, infamia orribile tu commettesti! un cor sensibile così uccidesti! Oh, the horrible infamy you have committed! to murder such a sensitive heart!
48-58 165 320 [G]Disprezzo degno sé stesso rende chi pur nell'ira la donna affende A man who insults a woman,
59-66 202 360 [C]Largo al quadrupede sir della festa, di fiori e pampini . . . Make way for the quadruped, lord of the feast, his head is wreathed about with flowers and vine leaves.
67-68 82 135 [V]Donna son io, signore, ed in mia casa; Ch'io vi lasci assentite, Piu' per voi che per me. (per uscire) [G] (Quai mod) I am a woman, sir, and this is my house; please excuse me if I leave you, more for your sake than mine. G: (What manners!)
69-72 84 134 [V] Oh, come dolce Mi suona il vostro accento! [G] Ed a tai sensi Un sacrificio chieggo V: How kind your voice sounds now. G: I have to ask a sacrifice of those noble feelings of yours
73-86 144 283 ([V] Ah, perche' venni, incauta! Pieta' di me, gran Dio!) (Che fia? morir mi sento.) What shall I do? I feel like death! Mercy, great God, mercy, great God, mercy, grant me {mercy}
87-108 144 283 "Gambling" motive "Gambling" motive
109-138 71 111 [A] De' miei bollenti spiriti ol giovanle ar dore ella temprò col placido soriso dell'amor, My passionate spirit and the fire of youth She tempers with the gentle smile of love.
139-157 144 283 "Gambling" motive "Gambling" motive
158-171 132 259 [C] Cinque tori in un sol giorno vo' vederti ad aterrar. Five bulls, vanquished, stretched lifeless on the arena floor.
172-209 226 413 [V] Se una pudica vergine Degli anni suoi nel fiore A te donasse il core Sposa ti sia lo vo'. If some gentle maiden In the springtime of her life Should give to you her heart Let her be your wife, for such is my wish.
210-240 218 393 Gran Dio! morir si' giovine, Io che penato ho tanto! (Ah, great God) That I should die so young After so much suffering!
241-248 217 389 [V] No! Voglio uscire . . . Gran Dio! Non posso! No, I want to go out! . . . Oh, heaven, I cannot!
249-250 207 369 [V&A] Amato/a, o gioia! Beloved, what joy!
266-272 108 190 [V] Amami, Alfredo, quant'io t'amo! Addio! Love me, Alfredo, love me as I love you! Farewell!
273-281 40 56 [V] Ah, se cio' e' ver, fuggitemi Solo amistade io v'offro:Amar non so, ne' soffro Un cosi' eroico amor You're taking love too seriously, Friendship is all I offer, For love so deep I'm not the woman.
282-288 62 84 [A] A quell'amor ch'e' palpito Dell'universo intero, Misterioso, altero, Croce e delizia al cor That love, the pulse of the whole world, mysterious, sublime, the torment and delight of my heart.
289-311 68 102 [A] Amor ch'e' palpito Dell'universo intero [V] De volare il mio pensier! Love is the pulse of the universe V: That makes my spirit soar!

Date on score: [Trumpet] May (?) 8, 1869; [Cornet] Monday, July 5, 1868 [spurious]

Performances: Thursday, July 8, 1869, Piazza Garibaldi; Sunday, December 4, 1870, Piazza Garibaldi; Thursday, July 13, 1871, Piazza Cavour; Wednesday, November 1, 1871, Piazza Cavour; Tuesday, June 25, 1872, Piazza Garibaldi.

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