From Fieldwork To The Stage: Federico Consolo and the Quest for Sephardic Musical Antiquity in 19th-century Florence

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Published on March 13, 2009

Author: spagnoloacht

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Paper presented at the conference "Creative Expressions of the Sephardic Experience," Indiana University, March 2, 2009

Between Fieldwork & the Stage Federico Consolo (1841-1906) and the Quest for Sephardic Musical Antiquity in 19th-Century Florence Francesco Spagnolo – The Magnes, Berkeley

The Ghetto of Florence (est. 1571) hosted synagogues ( yeshivod ) following the Italian and the Sephardic rite ( minhag )…

The Ghetto of Florence (est. 1571) hosted synagogues ( yeshivod ) following the Italian and the Sephardic rite ( minhag )…

The old Spanish-Portuguese synagogue of Livorno, the “city without Ghetto”, as depicted by Solomon Alexander Hart in 1850 (JM 28-55).

The old Spanish-Portuguese synagogue of Livorno, the “city without Ghetto”, as depicted by Solomon Alexander Hart in 1850 (JM 28-55).

Model of the new synagogue (Tempio), inaugurated on Tuesday, October 24, 1882. As planned forty years before, the synagogue followed the Sephardic ritual.

Model of the new synagogue (Tempio), inaugurated on Tuesday, October 24, 1882. As planned forty years before, the synagogue followed the Sephardic ritual.

From Florence to Livorno: 75 miles and 250 years

From Florence to Livorno: 75 miles and 250 years In Florence, where Jews resided since the 13th century : Ghetto is established in 1571 Partial Emancipation attained between 1799 and 1848 Jews are considered full citizens in 1859 Florence is the Capital of Italy in 1865-1870 In Livorno, since 1593, the “Livornina” charter ensured : Religious freedom and safe return to Judaism for Marranos Tax exemptions and commercial freedom

In Florence, where Jews resided since the 13th century :

Ghetto is established in 1571

Partial Emancipation attained between 1799 and 1848

Jews are considered full citizens in 1859

Florence is the Capital of Italy in 1865-1870

In Livorno, since 1593, the “Livornina” charter ensured :

Religious freedom and safe return to Judaism for Marranos

Tax exemptions and commercial freedom

The Facts In Florence, between 1882 and 1892, violinist and composer Federico Consolo (Ancona 1841-Florence 1906) collects, harmonizes, stages and publishes melodies from the Livornese oral tradition Sefer shire yisrael: Libro dei canti d’Israele and Appendix: 1890-92 Fantasia Orientale , for orchestra: 1882 (Ricordi 1940) Au bords du Nil , for small orchestra: 1882 (Ricordi 1940) A unique, yet paradigmatic, itinerary San Marino National Anthem : 1892

1890-1892

Interrelated Themes The attempt to unify the Italian and Sephardic minhagim The social and financial aspects in the construction of the new synagogue (1882) The creative expressions of Consolo and other Jewish and non-Jewish musicians and composers gravitating around the new synagogue Consolo’s ethnographic fieldwork in Livorno The concurrent cultural notions of antiquity and orientalism

The attempt to unify the Italian and Sephardic minhagim

The social and financial aspects in the construction of the new synagogue (1882)

The creative expressions of Consolo and other Jewish and non-Jewish musicians and composers gravitating around the new synagogue

Consolo’s ethnographic fieldwork in Livorno

The concurrent cultural notions of antiquity and orientalism

Sources and Methodology Oral musical sources : contemporary & archival field recordings (Leo Levi Collection) Written musical sources : Consolo (1890-92) & JNUL Florence Collection Literary and Archival sources : Italian Jewish Press (1847-1922) and Archives of the Florence Jewish Community (including Rabbinic responsa)

Oral musical sources : contemporary & archival field recordings (Leo Levi Collection)

Written musical sources : Consolo (1890-92) & JNUL Florence Collection

Literary and Archival sources : Italian Jewish Press (1847-1922) and Archives of the Florence Jewish Community (including Rabbinic responsa)

The remaining volume of the Prayer Book for the new “Tempio,” handwritten by h azzan Moisè Ventura

The remaining volume of the Prayer Book for the new “Tempio,” handwritten by h azzan Moisè Ventura

The interiors of the synagogue today.

The interiors of the synagogue today.

“ [We] fear that the grandiose monuments that are being built, or planned, by our communities for the liturgy will be frequented more by the curious visitors than by the pious ones.” (Della Torre 1870) Crowds gathered at the Synagogue of Florence for the European Day of Jewish Culture (2008)

“ [We] fear that the grandiose monuments that are being built, or planned, by our communities for the liturgy will be frequented more by the curious visitors than by the pious ones.” (Della Torre 1870)

Giuseppe Verdi writes to Federico Consolo (1891): ‘[…] I am a bit incredulous regarding the authenticity of these Songs, which came to us through [oral] tradition…’

Giuseppe Verdi writes to Federico Consolo (1891): ‘[…] I am a bit incredulous regarding the authenticity of these Songs, which came to us through [oral] tradition…’

Consolo’s “Orientalism”: from the Proceedings of the 13th International Congress of Orientalists (Hamburg 1902), Brill 1904

Consolo’s “Orientalism”:

from the Proceedings of the 13th International Congress of Orientalists (Hamburg 1902), Brill 1904

Antiquity Seekers: San Marino

Antiquity Seekers: San Marino

San Marino, National Anthem by Federico Consolo (1892)

San Marino, National Anthem by Federico Consolo (1892)

Paradigms Social context : communal assets and inter-ethnic dynamics Personal motivations and biographical itineraries Paratext : evolving notions of Jewish musical antiquity

Social context : communal assets and inter-ethnic dynamics

Personal motivations and biographical itineraries

Paratext : evolving notions of Jewish musical antiquity

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