The rhetoric of Ophelia
An aspect of Anzaghi’s poetics, particularly evident in his works up to 1983, is the euphony and the attitude in resolving the composition outline in a visionary and ecstatic way. Yet such euphony is not hedonistic but supported by another firm belief of the author: anguished requests may, with rhetoric awareness, be successfully diverted towards melodious results which, receiving the anguish itself, are able to show its ‘perverted’ aspect. Just as the ‘reticence’ is a rhetoric figure which, not less than the ‘hyperbole’, emphasizes the unsaid, an obsessive and haunted euphony is a possible way of witnessing an anguished existence. Anzaghi sees a proof of this in the person of Ophelia (in the Shakespearian Hamlet) who, unlike the protagonist, gives voice to her own desperation with the language of grace and sweetness. The title of a chamber work of Anzaghi is precisely Soavodia (Sweet ode).
Freedom and imprisonment
The compositional technique adopted by Anzaghi starting in 1984 is influenced by the Pythagorean theory with the consequent privilege accorded to the number: intervals are discriminated in even and uneven and only the latter provided with a center note. But far from asserting a sort of scientist poetics, the recourse to the number is a mean to check that pseudosubjectivity which passes resurgence off as spontaneity, roars of banalities as ideational flows, impudence as expressive urgency. Much better to oppose the illusion of being subjectively free and shut oneself up in a numeric prison: in this way the limits of our freedom are best seen. Outside, those of the prison would not be perceived.
Pythagorean-serial code and its presence in Anzaghi’s production
As from 1984, the author started a compositional phase which, diverting from the previous one (characterized by a sweet dream-like aura), systematically projected the compositional procedures on an ideal screen of spaced geometries, where symmetry axis and numeric relations ruled the ensuing plots. The presence of the number in music, however, is not worth to be pointed out being a too much known condition.
Since 1984 it became impossible for the author to write a note which did not belong to an universe of preceding relations, by virtue of which that note would not only be a sound or a ‘solo’ sound, but would become phoneme of a linguistic plot which could still permit an oriented and connoted proceeding, as constantly referable to its own generative code.
The composer explored the possibilities implied in the nature of the intervals which, being distinguished in ‘even’ and ‘uneven’ allowed two different formulations. The uneven intervals (not divisible by two inside the tempered chromatic scale) originated a center, equidistant from the extremes. The even intervals, with no center, could instead be divided (also by two) or multiplied by integers. Many properties resulted from this assumption, composing themselves in an organic plot of possibilities.
In connection with the teaching of Composition
In the Italian Music Schools an authoritarian rather than authoritative orientation prescribes that the teaching of composition can not disregard an imitation of the past. Such past is withdrawn to so archaic seasons of composition that one cannot help but asking himself if, starting from so far off, one would ever arrive near the present. Have the upholders of a composition apprenticeship, which should start at least from Palestrina, ever read the limpid words of Stravinskij?
‘… I believe that, also from a pedagogic point of view, it would be more correct to start the education of a pupil through the knowledge of current events and to climb back the steps of history only later on. Frankly, I have no reliance whatever in those who give themselves air of fine connoisseurs and passionate admirers of the great pontifex of arts, honored, with one or more stars, in the Baedeker and with a portrait, for that manner unrecognizable, in an illustrated encyclopaedia, and in the meantime have no comprehension at all for the art of our days. Indeed, what credit deserves the opinion of those who go into ecstasies in front of the big names when then, faced with contemporary works, show a dull indifference, or an evident sympathy for mediocrity and clichés?’.
Ideology and Art
Ideology – whatever it be – does not seem to guarantee the good result of a piece of work, even less its sublimity. For the good reason that the excellence of the work does not draw from the same source of ideology. Having said that and with all the exceptions that this reflection implicitly postulates one would be inclined to conclude that so many ideological controversies about art have not made easier neither the practice nor the comprehension. If ever they have prevented the access to those who did not have a strong vocation. Those works which were born of bad quality remain bad, even if gilded with a good ideology. Good works, born under an unlucky ideological star, remain good. The intention of bringing discredit on ideology as such is foreign to these words. They only have to sow the seeds of doubt that ideology and art do not descend from the same rib.
One lays no claims to settling here the aesthetic controversy between innovators and traditionalists. But he who pretends to confuse the adoption of linguistic means – new or traditional whatever – with an absolute value, and such as to pass over the simple philological description justified by that adoption, would dedicate himself to a sterile exercise. Therefore, no neoteric optimism (‘new is nice’); no misoneistic ostracism (‘old is ugly’). And vice versa, obviously.
Salvatore Quasimodo, apropos of philosophers, wrote that the latter are ‘… the natural enemies of poets’. With this lapidary affirmation the poet intended to sanction the reciprocal irreconcilability and irreducibility of the discursive and rational knowledge (‘dianoetic’ the ancients would have said) and the intuitive knowledge (or ‘noetic’). Where to place ideology is a problem to be entrusted to the sagacity of others. So we merely point out that the disconnected and violent use of ideology done in the twentieth century complicates the solution of the problem.
The music of Rota was born under no star: lucky or unlucky whatever. He usually did not look at heaven. He preferred to look into himself. This explains his absence from the dusty arena of the aesthetic disputes. But the most amazing condition was the respect that his ‘outdatedness’ (paid by others with proscription) acknowledged him, almost unanimously.