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Rethinking Russolo.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date01/2010
JournalTempo
Journal number251
Volume64
Number of pages9
Pages8-16
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

One of the more telling indicators of Luigi Russolo's (1885–1947) Anglo-American reception is his description in Grove as an ‘Italian inventor, painter and composer’. Within this lurks the devaluation of his composing efforts in comparison to his work as the maker of intonarumori (noise instruments), his authoring of new aesthetic ideas, and his activities as a painter. There is little, perhaps, to argue with in this assessment, for (somewhat ironically) Russolo's music of the future has been consigned irrevocably to the music of the past; Raymond Fearn has suggested that ‘the musical remnants from this period have remained to a large extent in the realm of musical archaeology’. The only material traces available for musical archaeologists are the opening seven bars of the score of Il risveglio di una città (The Awakening of the City; 1913–14): the machines that were to play it were destroyed during the Second World War. The loss of Russolo's compositions has inevitably distorted our understanding of his work and has served to throw attention onto those progressive, and sometimes speculative, theoretical and mechanical aspects of it that have survived in written accounts, at the expense of those elements that are of a more traditional or pragmatic nature. Study of the remaining fragments of Il risveglio di una città, leavened with necessary doses of circumspection and speculation, forms a vital and hitherto under-utilized component to any assessment of Russolo's career.

Bibliographic note

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=TEM The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Tempo, 64 (251), pp 8-16 2010, © 2010 Cambridge University Press.