New findings on the use of the corni da caccia in early eighteenthcentury Roman orchestras View larger

New findings on the use of the corni da caccia in early eighteenthcentury Roman orchestras

Online only

Author Teresa Chirico
Series Recercare - Rivista per lo studio e la pratica della musica antica - Journal for the study and practice of early music
Size 17×24, pp. 158
Year 2015
ISBN 9788870968125

Price 7,00 €

Work avaiable in PDF version

The article offers the first substantiated evidence of the use of natural horns (corni da caccia) in early eighteenth-century Roman orchestras. The first well-documented case is the performance of Giovanni Bononcini’s serenata Sacrificio a Venere, text by Paolo Rolli, which was performed in Rome to celebrate the Austrian Empress’ Elisabeth Christine’s birthday on 28 August 1714. The author succeeded in tracking down score of this serenata — which was thought to have been lost — at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna. Giovanni Bononcini and, subsequently, Antonio Caldara and Benedetto Micheli introduced natural horns in their compositions as a tribute to eminent personalities connected to Austria, or as a consequence of the influence of Austrian performance practice. The article proceeds to briefly chart the course of the use of natural horns in early eighteenth-century Rome and other cities, such as Mantua, Venice, and Naples; here, the use of horns was often politically and culturally connected to Austria. Between 1714 and 1720 Vivaldi used them in compositions performed in Venice, in Mantua (in honour of Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt, governor of Mantua on behalf of the Austrian emperor) and, perhaps, in Rome. Starting 1720, maestro di cappella Girolamo Chiti used horns in many different instrumental ensembles, in works composed for several churches in Rome. At the same time, noble Roman patrons such as princes Ruspoli, Borghese and Colonna, as well as Cardinal Ottoboni, increasingly appreciated the use of natural horns in orchestras, to the point that — by the 1730s — the use of this instrument, both in Rome and in the rest of Italy, gradually affranchised itself from its Austrian matrix and adapted to the Italian context. By mid-century, natural horns had earned a permanent place in Italian secular music, whereas, on the contrary, their use in liturgical music was forbidden for a long time, especially in Roman churches, as a consequence of a papal bull issued by Benedict xiv in 1748.