GOFFREDO PETRASSI (1904 - 2003)
Familiar from childhood, as a chorister in Rome, with the music of Palestrina and his Netherlands contemporaries, Goffredo Petrassi entered the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in 1928, studying composition with Alessandro Bustini and the organ with Fernando Germani. He received considerable encouragement from Casella and went on to enjoy a distinguished career as a teacher at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia and subsequently as a conductor and administrator at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia. His many pupils include Peter Maxwell Davies and Kenneth Leighton, together with a generation of younger Italian composers.
Stage and Film Music
Petrassi provided scores for, among other films, Riso amaro (‘Bitter Rice’) and the ballets La follia di Orlando (‘The Madness of Roland’), based on Ariosto, and Ritratto di Don Chisciotte (‘Portrait of Don Quixote’), based on Cervantes. He drew on the same writer for his opera Il cordovano. His last opera, Morte dell’Aria (‘Death of the Aria’), staged in Rome in 1950, is a dark-hued tragedy.
Vocal and Instrumental Music
Petrassi’s compositions reflect the changes in his style as he turned, over the years, to new ideas. He had his first international success with his neoclassical orchestral Partita of 1932. His six concertos for orchestra reflect the influence of atonalism, with a seventh and his Flute Concerto of the 1960s allowing further instrumental experiment. He left a quantity of varied chamber music, and his vocal works range from settings of religious texts to Nonsense Songs by Edward Lear.