- Maderna’s Requiem Recovered
“I have resumed work on the Requiem, interrupted for many months for obvious reasons, and I hope to bring it to a satisfactory end. This work will be a real landmark for me,” Bruno Maderna wrote in a letter to his teacher and mentor Gian Francesco Malipiero on 31 August 1945 (p. vi). Maderna had been called to the Italian army of Benito Mussolini during World War II, but during the last months of the war he entered the Italian Resistance. For a short time in February 1945, the German SS detained him under arrest.
Presumably composed between 1944 and 1946, the Requiem for soloists, choirs, and orchestra by Maderna, one of Italy’s most eminent composers and conductors of the post-World War II avant-garde, has come to light only after sixty years. For a long time it was believed lost. The discovery of the autograph score in a United States library occurred thanks to the perseverance and expertise of Veniero Rizzardi, who was supported by the Istituto per la Musica of the G. Cini Foundation in Venice. Following the publication of a facsimile ( Esumazione di un Requiem: Edizione anastatica della partitura e note informative sul ritrovamento del giovanile Requiem di Bruno Maderna, ed. Veniero Rizzardi, Studi di musica veneta, Archivio G. F. Malipiero, 3 [Florence: Leo Olschki, 2007]) and first performed on 19 November 2009 at the Gran Teatro La Fenice in Venice (Andrea Molino conducting the Orchestra and Choir of the Teatro La Fenice and soloists Carmela Remigio, Veronica Simeoni, Simone Alberghini, and Mario Zeffiri), the score of Maderna’s Requiem is now available in a critical re-edition of Maderna’s works compiled by Mario Baroni and Rossana Dalmonte, a collection of Maderna’s early and some of his mature compositions “in a form best suited to study and performance” (p. iii; with the prefix “re,” Baroni and Dalmonte intend to distance themselves from the idea of a “Complete Works”). An additional goal of the collection is to promote research into Maderna sources, in the hope of discovering further materials concealed in archives or in private possession. A starting point for [End Page 538]work in this direction was the volume Bruno Maderna: Documenti(ed. Mario Baroni, Rossana Dalmonte, and Francesca Magnani [Milan: Suvini Zerboni, 1985]).
In the introduction to the critical re-edition, Rizzardi describes the context of the Requiem’s genesis and destiny. While he was completing his Requiem (the date appearing in the autograph score is September 1946), Maderna had the opportunity to conduct for the first time at the Biennale di Venezia in a concert dedicated to the “giovane scuola italiana” (Young Italian School), presented by Malipiero, a member of the “generazione dell’Ottanta” (generation of the Eighties). The concert included his piece Serenata, which is now lost. Around the same time, Maderna met the American composer and critic Virgil Thomson, to whom he was introduced in July 1946 by Malipiero. Having scrutinized the Requiem still to be finished, Thomson praised it enthusiastically in an article he wrote for the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune, “Venice and Its Musical Life” (Paris, 10 August 1946), and called for a performance in the United States. A letter from Maderna to Thomson dated 3 March 1947 (published in Esumazione di un Requiem, p. xvii) reveals that Maderna sent him a cyanotype copy of the manuscript, which became the motivation for Rizzardi’s search for the lost work. Maderna asked for no backup copy, according to Rizzardi, once the composer learned that attempts to perform the work...