Enzo Restagno's Intro

Introduction of Prof. Enzo Restagno

Since I am a musicologist, I was asked for a small introduction to the concert you are going to listen to in a few minutes, but I am convinced that this music –Rossini especially – doesn’t need any explanation.

 

I dare say this music speaks for itself.

There is nevertheless a different way, more interesting for you to consider the same music. I mean music taken in its relationship with the human body.

In the tenth, last and unfinished symphony by Gustav Malher, you can read in the front page of the score the phrase :

« Leb’wohl mein Saitenspiel » usually translated « Farewell my beloved strings ».

In a certain sense this translation is correct because the first and only movement of the Symphony is a quite long and very moving Adagio sang by the strings. But the German word « Saitenspiel » used by Malher indicates someting different. « Saintenspiel is the instrument that in the Middle-Ages minstrels used to carry around on a shoulder trap. Of course Mahler didn’t mean to refer to this kind of old instrument ; his feeling hints at the instrument which in a life, totally devoted to music, becomes part of our body and the part of the human body strictly tide up with music is the shoulder.

The orchestra first violin is called « Leader » in England and America, « Konzertmeister » in Austria and Germany, but « Spalla «  (shoulder ) in Italy.

You surely know, by the way,  that many violinists have quite often serious problems with their shoulders !

But now I would like to consider how the music has a direct relationship with the human body. Unlike dancers whose bodies become the instruments, let’s consider the influence of the music on musician’s and listener’s bodies.

In the music of Rossini and the other composers, you are going to listen to there is a river of joyful sensations that communicate to our bodies a wonderful feeling of lightness and agility.

 

 

This is the miracle of this kind of Italian music known everywhere as « Opera buffa ». I wouldn’t say nevertheless that the joyful sensations mentioned before concern only lightness and agility of the body ; the human body is the most complex instrument on earth and music is able to follow it gently in every moment.

 

As you remember at the beginning of Shakespeare’s « Twelfth Knight » the Duke Orsino says :

« If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess of it, that surfeiting, the appetite make sicken, and so die ».

 

Prof. Enzo Restagno