Introduced by Stefano Toffolo.
Edited by Matanya Ophee.
(Italian-English bi-lingual text)
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The so-called Codice Lautenbuch is known to us only through Chilesotti’s transcription, since the original source, which belonged to him, has not survived. In all probability the codex dated from the end of the sixteenth century and was compiled in Italian tablature by an unknown German lutenist. The musical quality of the pieces selected seems to be quite high, like other manuscripts of the period. Included are dances (passamezzi, saltarelli, chiarenzane, gagliarde, German and Polish dances), intabulations of vocal models (villanelle or madrigals), sometimes with their texts, two French songs, and a ricercare, also found in two other Italian manuscripts of the same period. The latter is similar in style to certain pieces by Francesco da Milano. The pieces in the codex present, on the whole, fewer technical difficulties than those published in printed editions of the time. They are rather spontaneous in nature, and show remarkable melodic invention. The passamezzi in particular are divided into two parts, as in the printed tablatures of Giacomo Gorzanis, Giulio Abbondante, Simone Molinaro, and other important lutenists of the Italian Renaissance. Chilesotti’s selection accurately reflects his own preferences in literature for the lute, inasmuch as the pieces included in the codex are presented as manifesting the broad influence of the “genius of the people” on the development of popular melody in polyphonic composition.
Oscar Chilesotti was born in Bassano del Grappa on July 17, 1848. It was with a private tutor, Antonio Sale, that the young Oscar studied flute, violoncello, and guitar. His acquaintance with this last instrument was fundamental, for it brought him into contact with literature for the lute. Chilesotti learned harmony from the treatises of Boucheron and Fétis. In 1871 he obtained a law degree from the University of Padua with a thesis on “Theatrical Jurisprudence.” In 1881 he won a “Diploma d’onore” at the Musical Exposition of Milan for the publication in modern notation of his transcription of Capricci armonici sopra la chitarra spagnola del Conte Lodovico Roncalli (1692). In 1888 he offered the only guitar concert for which we have exact information. He was named “Knight of the Crown of Italy” and he made the first translations into Italian of some of Arthur Schopenhauer’s works. In 1889, at the invitation of Queen Margaret of Savoy (who took lute lessons from Chilesotti), he gave a lecture and a “historical concert” in Rome at the Royal Philharmonic Academy. Chilesotti was one of the members of the organizing committee for the Fourth International Music Congress in Rome in 1911. He died in Bassano del Grappa on June 23, 1916.
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