Arrigo Boito: Trascrizione per canto di una partita di G. S. Bach, for Mezzo-soprano and Piano (Critical Edition)


  • Composer(s): Arrigo Boito
  • Edition: Da Vinci Edition,
  • Format: A4 - Paperback
  • Genre: Vocal
  • Instrumentation: Piano, Soprano
  • Pages: 28
  • Period: Romantic
  • Editor: Chiara Bertoglio
  • ISMN: 9790216200073
SKU: DV 21491 Category:

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From the Preface

Arrigo Boito (1842-1918) was one of the protagonists of the musical and cultural scene in fin-de-siècle Italy. A gifted composer, a prolific writer, a passionate patriot, and the author of several unforgettable librettos (including those for Verdi’s Otello and Falstaff), he was at the forefront of many aesthetic currents, political movements and philosophical debates, and at the center of a net of relationships comprising some of the leading artists and thinkers of the era. He was also one of the most passionate Bach-lovers in the peninsula, as was unanimously acknowledged by his contemporaries, who often praised (and sometimes mocked) his “Bach-fetishism” (as one writer polemically dubbed it). In his obituary, his “special predilection for Bach” was mentioned: Boito “owned all of [Bach’s] works. He spoke of him with rapture, rather than with [simple] veneration”. Verdi contrasted Boito’s enthusiasm for Bach with the opinion of others (for whom Bach was “arid, cold, boring”); and Boito frequently attempted (often with success) to convert some of his friends and acquaintances to the Bach-cult.

Although Boito’s relationship with faith and spirituality was rather complex (he was certainly not a practising Catholic, and he belonged to institutions and currents which were sometimes openly opposed to the Church), a religious vein is undeniably found both in this literary and in his musical output; the daring, blasphemous creed uttered by his Iago is counterbalanced by the touching prayer of Desdemona. Certainly, the figure of Johann Sebastian Bach embodied, for Boito, those aspects of religion in which he believed throughout his life; Bach’s music was, for Boito, almost a gateway to faith, or the language in which he could freely speak about the sacred and the divine.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that he turned to Bach’s music when he had to write a contribution for a miscellaneous publication commemorating an exceptional woman, Rosa De Toth Fambri (1829-1880). Boito had known her husband, Paulo Fambri, already at the time of his earliest published writings, printed on the Foglio settimanale Caffè Pedrocchi in Padua. Fambri was a staunch Risorgimento patriot and a rather rebellious character; through his encounter with Rosa De Toth, a beautiful, clever and cultivated woman, Fambri managed to channel his fierce nature and to become fully engaged in the cultural life of his time. Rosa was brilliant, full of humour and self-irony, witty and cultivated. At her death, fifteen of her friends created a first collection of contributions (1880), which was to be expanded, two years later, in its second edition, which included works by sixty-seven authors and artists. It was for this second edition that Boito wrote a touching poem, titled Lamentazione (“Lamentation”), whose lines could be used as lyrics for a piece by Bach, in a transcription for “mezzo soprano and cembalo” printed in that collection.


(b Padua, 24 Feb 1842; d Milan, 10 June 1918). Italian librettist, composer, poet and critic. He is best remembered for his one completed opera, Mefistofele, and for his collaborations as librettist with Verdi.