Historian Guy Graybill undoubtedly loves music as well as history. So if you are a fan of either, I am certain you will want to consider his latest book, Bravo! Greatness of Italian Music, published by the Dante University Press.
I must say immediately that I very much enjoyed this writer’s brilliant presentation of what many will see as a major historical text with indepth, well-documented information on his chosen topic. This is very true! But there were subtle small touches that added to my personal delight, such as:
· His use of Acts rather than the common “chapter” to separate his material.
· His choice of highlighting both Sinatra and Pavarotti on the cover to show the breadth of his content.
· His inclusion of small asides of personal opinion and/or tidbits of humor that normally would never appear in a significant research effort; for instance his personal comment about ballet: “What perversity resides within the masculine soul that drives men to create ways to physically hobble females?” (p. 144)
· And, finally, the inclusion of many historical pictures as well as many beautiful hand-drawn portraits from the Dante University Press.
Do not doubt that this book will become a major reference for students of music!
The back cover states, “The Italians were so busy creating and performing superb music that they neglected to tell the great epic story of their wondrous achievement.” Indeed, the author has “demonstrated…the Italian contribution to music is overwhelmingly superior.” (p. 234) His Curtain on that same page provides 14 areas of music in which Italians excel! Obviously, creation of fine instruments, operas, and symphonies are just a few.
Let me illustrate by just highlighting names that many of you will readily recognize: Gregory who composed the Gregorian chants; Stradivari, makers of stringed instruments; Paganini; Monteverdi, opera’s first genius; Verdi; Caruso; Pavarotti; and, one of my favorites, Andrea Bocelli, who is involved in both opera and more modern music and even has his singing in a commercial–how cool is that!
If you don’t recognize those involved with classical music, how about: Anna Maria Alberghetti, Mario Lanza, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, Jim Croce, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Frankie Lane, Jerry Vale, Sonny Bono, Jerry Colonna, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, and, of course, Frank Sinatra.
Just imagine! I’ve highlighted only those individuals whose name you will probably recognize. I believe you will realize that this book is well beyond a students’ text! Anybody who is interested in music will find the personal stories and biographical information on these individuals fascinating!
From Italians and Italian-Americans, there has been “more music lost” than has been created by others! That’s a powerful statement, isn’t it? Graybill has the statistics–the numbers, to back this up if that will interest you. I think anybody who stops to think about the great music they’ve come to love, they will realize the impact that Italy’s musical genius has made on all of their lives.
Graybill has done an outstanding performance–a major triumph for both history and music! Consider this a must-read for music students and professionals! For others, enjoy this writer, like I did, as I read little tidbits like, “Do corpses really roll over within their graves if something disturbing happens in the world of the living? If so, there’s no doubt that the corpse of operatic composer Amilcare Ponchielli took a couple of whirls during the 20th century…especially if he heard the “highly successful musical parody in which Amilcare’s stirring music is sung to the opening words, “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah…” (pps. 98-99) You’re going to enjoy this one!