Ongoing catalogue project of classical music compositions that center around author Primo Levi.
By Camilla Tassi
About the site and catalogue: After taking a course at the University of Notre Dame on Primo Levi's Se questo è un uomo, as well as being exposed to his essays, short stories, and poetry, I wondered if composers of classical music had been inspired by Levi's written word in their craft. This prompted a research (through a directed study with Vittorio Montemaggi) to locate as many classical compositions that were in some way inspired by Levi or had his texts as a significant reference point. This research was facilitated by special collections on Levi held within the University of Notre Dame Libraries. It was also facilitated by Robert Simon, Music Librarian at Notre Dame.From this search, I selected two pieces and presented a public performance of them on April 28th, 2016 at the University of Notre Dame in order to raise awareness of Levi's literature and legacy - all through the medium of music and the spoken word. Presented for this program were musical settings of Levi's texts by Ennio Morricone and Simon Sargon, a brief lecture by Vittorio Montemaggi on the context of the text in its performance, and projections of student testimonies on their interactions with Levi's writing.
In my search, I was surprised to see how many composers of different nationalities chose Levi as a subject. I was also especially intrigued by pieces which combined Levi's words with mixed media or with the words of other influential authors. In realizing this online catalogue, I have listed each piece's connection to Levi, its instrumentation, and, where possible, published scores and recordings, so that anyone interested may be able to locate them. As I was not able to pinpoint all of the details for each entry, I am still researching and will continue to expand this catalogue. Where library catalogues did not provide information on select pieces, I was in some cases able to contact the composer of the piece for details. Where no citation or published score was found, I opted to include a study score - as I decided it would be more helpful than a lack of documentation. The format utilized for each entry is as follows:
Composer, title of musical work.
How it is related to Levi (which of his texts it utilizes)
Full score: Published by which company, catalog # and/or ISBN #, year.
Recording: Record company, catalog #, year (if present)
I hope that the presence of this catalogue inspires others to listen to this music, support a composer's work, and read more of Levi's literature. If you happen to locate a particular error in the catalogue, find further information on an entry, or would like to discuss this ongoing project, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!