’Docere E Movere’

Il canto sospeso

Authored by: Jonathan Impett

Routledge Handbook to Luigi Nono and Musical Thought

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781409455974
eBook ISBN: 9780429485732
Adobe ISBN:


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Il canto sospeso (1956) sets letters from condemned resistance fighters, for soloists, choir and orchestra, from the well-known Lettere di condannati a morte della Resistenza europea by Malvezzi and Pirelli. It is based entirely on projections of the all-interval series. A history of misguided analyses is discussed. Each movement is analysed in detail, as is the clear architectural form. Il canto sospeso receives enthusiastic popular and critical reception. The work was at the centre of heated debate about the relationship of text and music (Stockhausen Musik und Sprache 1957, Nono Text-Musik-Gesang 1960). Nono refers to Schönberg’s 1912 essay and historical models (Gesualdo, Back, Mozart). It is related to ongoing debate about ‘the aging of the new music’ (Adorno, Metzger). Il canto sospeso is discussed in the light of Nono’s interest in Bach, particularly the St Matthew Passion, and musical rhetoric.

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