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Alfredo Casella

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Born in Turin in 1883, Alfredo Casella showed early ability as a pianist, an inheritance gained from his father, two uncles and his paternal grandfather, all who were deeply involved in music. It was from his mother that he received his first piano lessons, but he soon outstripped her tuition, and at the age of twelve it was decided he should seek entry into the Paris Conservatoire. In 1896 he moved there, and in 1901 was admitted into the composition class of Gabriel Fauré. In total he remained in Paris for almost nineteen years, during which time he found friendship with Ravel and Enescu. But above all his compositions fell under the influence of Mahler and Richard Strauss. In those early years in Paris he enjoyed a career as pianist and harpsichordist, working in chamber music and as an accompanist. It was also the period when he wrote his first two symphonies. As a conductor his career had many setbacks, and though his music changed tack with Stravinsky becoming a major inspiration, it was receiving little public acclaim. In 1915 Casella returned to Italy and settled in Rome, taking up the modest post of piano teacher at the School of Music Santa Cecilia. In 1923 he gained the position of presenting piano masterclasses there, and became an important figure of influence on young Italian musicians. In 1923 he set up the Corporazione delle Nuove Musiche, affiliated to the International Society for Contemporary Music. Looking now at the members - Respighi, Malipiero, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and the conductor and composer Vittorio Gui, it hardly looks revolutionary, and they soon drifted away, leaving Casella as its only important member.

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