Sunday, December 18, 2005

Masking in Rome, the home of Carnevale

Rome2 009
Originally uploaded by diakho.
Roman Carnival Overture, the concerto by French composer Hector Berlioz, was composed after spending a year in Rome.

"Hector Berlioz established programme music as the Romantic musical form and started the beginnings of the symphonic poem. His music is representative of his own wild emotional swings and he often broke traditional orchestral rules!" So says the site

"Roman Carnival is a fast and exciting piece which captures the imagination and drives the listener forward through a carnival in the streets of Rome, giving us colour, fun, excitement, people enjoying themselves, dancing, singing, laughing, playing — all having a ball!"

In truth, this site says, "Berlioz himself did experience the real Roman Carnival during his stay in the city as a Prix de Rome winner in 1831.

By long tradition, deriving from the ancient pagan Saturnalia (the forerunner to christmas), it was the most hectic, licentious and violent of all Italy’s pre-Lenten carnivals, and one which several Popes had unsuccessfully tried to restrain.

Like Goethe, who witnessed it twice on his famous Italian journey, in 1787 and 1788, and found in it noise but no real merriment — “One has to see the Roman Carnival to lose all wish to ever see it again!” — Berlioz describes it brilliantly, but as his Memoirs show was in fact disgusted by what he too found an almost totally degrading spectacle."


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