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Autograph Musical Manuscript - A Study in Counterpoint, Napoli, 1819
Used; Like New/Used; Like New. Early autograph musical manuscript in the hand of the Italian operatic composer. 32 pp. total, numbered in a later hand; pp. 1-16 are in Bellini's hand; pp. 17-32 are in an unknown hand. Half vellum binding with printed cover label titled "Studio del Contrappunto fatto da Vincenzo Bellini, Napoli 1819, Autografo." 11.5 x 9 inches (29.5 x 23.5 cm). Some light edge wear and foxing, especially to the later pages not in Bellini's hand, and one chip to the binding, but overall in fine condition.
The manuscript was previously in the collection of the American musicologist H. C. Robbins Landon (1926-2009) and was discussed in Bellini scholar Friedrich Lippmann's 1977 article "Belliniana: Nuovi Documenti."The music in Bellini's hand consists of a series of contrapuntal exercises in three parts, over a series of simple bass lines, all in C major. First, the young composer works out basic voice-leading models for a I-V-I cadence, and then writes increasingly complex variations on the same short bass; this procedure is repeated for a I-IV-V-I cadence, a I-iii6-IV-#IV6-V-I progression, and ascending and descending scales in the bass. The musical writing gains in complexity over the relatively few pages, by the final examples incorporating imitative and canonic writing. The final page in Bellini's hand bears two studies in four voices.In 1819, Bellini was only 18 years old and had just been granted a scholarship to study at the Real Collegio di Musica in Naples. Coming from a musical family in Sicily, he was well prepared for his studies. Both his grandfather, Vincenzo Tobia Bellini, and his father, Rosario Bellini, were composers and maestri di cappella. According to an (undoubtedly hyperbolic) anonymous manuscript now in the Museo Belliniano in Catania, the young Bellini had sung an aria by Fioravanti at the age of 18 months and taken over for his grandfather as conductor in church at age 3. He also began to compose at a young age, receiving lessons from his grandfather. 

At the conservatory in Naples, Bellini studied with Giovanni Furno, Giacomo Tritto, Girolamo Crescentini. and Niccolò Zingarelli. A cornerstone of his training was traditional counterpoint, as the exercises in this manuscript demonstrate. Besides this, he gained an understanding of the voice by composing many wordless solfeggi. Nearby at the Naples theatres, Rossini was the composer-in-residence from 1815 to 1822, and Bellini was influenced both by the older composer's florid style and by the more austere aesthetic of his teachers. According to Mary Ann Smart, "The conservatory's mostly septuagenerian faculty promulgated a conservative style of composition[...] espousing simple melodies and clear text-setting while violently opposing the florid vocal style and 'noisy' orchestration of Rossini [...] Bellini absorbed the Neapolitan doctrine thoroughly and produced works that pleased his teachers without ignoring the Rossini example. [...] A simultaneous attraction and resistance to Rossini's style is one of the most intriguing aspects of Bellini's student works; indeed, the confrontation with Rossini remained both a creative problem and a spur to innovation throughout his career."
See:Lippmann, Friedrich. "Belliniana: Nuovi documenti." In: Il Melodramma italiano dell'Ottocento. Studi e ricerche per Massimo Mila. Ed. G. Pestelli. Pp. 281-317. Torino: Einaudi, 1977.Smart, Mary Ann, et al. "Bellini, Vincenzo." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.Willier, Stephen Ace. Vincenzo Bellini: A Guide to Research. Psychology Press, 2002. pp. 67-68.

      [Bookseller: Schubertiade Music & Arts]
Last Found On: 2016-10-17           Check availability:      Biblio    


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