MUSIC: Castelnuovo-Tedesco: excerpt from Concerto Italiano for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 31, opening of first movement, performed by violinist Tianwa Yang with the SWR Symphony Orchestra of Baden Baden and Freiburg conducted by Pieter-Jelle de Boer [Naxos 8.573135 Track 1] [under the following]
Have you ever heard of Castelnuovo-Tedesco? Do you think it’s the name of a department store in Rome or a castle in Madrid? Well, no, it’s the last name of a prolific 20th Century Italian composer. His full name is almost as long and musical as one of his guitar pieces: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman. Stay with me for the next hour and we’ll listen to two concertos by this very gifted composer: one for guitar; the other for violin and orchestra.
MUSIC: Fades out
Castelnuovo-Tedesco was born in Florence, Italy, in 1895. He was descended from a prominent banking family that had lived in the city since the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. He was first introduced to the piano by his mother, and composed his first pieces when he was just nine years old.
In 1932, at an international music festival in Venice, Castelhuovo-Tedesco met Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia. The meeting inspired Castelnuovo-Tedesco to write for the guitar. He went on to write almost one hundred compositions for this instrument, earning him the reputation as one of the foremost composers for the guitar of the 20th Century. Some of them were written and dedicated to Segovia, who was an enthusiastic supporter of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s work.
Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s first guitar concerto was written in 1939, the same year that Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez was written. It was also the year that Castelnuovo-Tedesco left Italy for the United States to escape the fascist government’s new antisemitic racial laws. He was sponsored by Arturo Toscanini, the former musical director of La Scala, who had left Italy in 1933.
Let’s listen to Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Guitar Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Opus 99, now as performed by Spanish guitarist Narciso Yepes with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro on a quadraphonic recording from 1977 remastered in 2014 and issued by Pentatone.
MUSIC: Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Guitar Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Opus 99, performed by guitarist Narciso Yepes with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro [Pentatone PTC 5186 202, Tracks 4, 5, and 6]. [20:16]
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Guitar Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Opus 99, performed by guitarist Narciso Yepes with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro. This was from a quadraphonic recording from 1977 remastered in 2014 and issued by Pentatone.
You are listening to “Castelnuovo-Tedesco Concertos” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.
Like many European composers who fled fascism, Castelnuovo-Tedesco ended up in Hollywood, where, with the help of violinist Jascha Heifetz, he got a contract as a film composer. Over the next fifteen years, he worked on scores for some 200 films.
Castelnuovo-Tedesco was a significant influence on other major film composers, including Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, Herman Stein and André Previn. Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams were his pupils. But later in life he attempted to deny the influence that Hollywood had on his own work. Yet he also believed that film scores were an essentially American art form, much as opera was European.
Nevertheless, unlike several of his fellow European refugees to Hollywood, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco is not known today primarily for his film scores, but rather for his guitar music and symphonic works such as the guitar concerto we just heard and his
three-movement Concerto Italiano for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 31. The violin concerto was written in 1924. It was his first symphonic venture.
In this 2015 Naxos recording, Chinese violinist Tianwa Yang is accompanied by the SWR Symphony Orchestra of Baden-Baden and Freiburg under the baton of the Paris-based Dutch conductor Pieter-Jelle de Boer.
MUSIC: Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Concerto Italiano for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 31, performed by violinist Tianwa Yang with the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg conducted by Pieter-Jelle de Boer. [Naxos 8.573135, Tracks 1, 2, and 3] [31:38]
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Concerto Italiano for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 31. Violinist Tianwa Yang was accompanied by the SWR Symphony Orchestra of Baden-Baden and Freiburg conducted by Pieter-Jelle de Boer.
And that concludes “Castelnuovo-Tedesco Concertos” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. If you missed part of the program or would like to hear it again, you can stream it on demand at compactdiscoveries.com. This is program number 249. This is your guide to Compact Discoveries, Fred Flaxman. Thank you for listening.
ANNOUNCER (Tana Flaxman): Production of Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida... and by the financial support of Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz… Art and Eva Stevens... Shelley and Gilbert Harrison… the CD companies that supply the recordings used… and ArkivMusic.com the online store for classical music CDs, DVDs, downloads, and over 10,000 on-demand reissued titles.
Program Ends at 58:00