May 1, 2018

This Month in History (May)

Historical events from each month of the year
May 2nd:
Sacred Concerts: The Life of Alessandro Scarlatti, The “Grandfather” of Classical Music
By Niccolò Graffio
Alessandro Scarlatti was born on May 2, 1660 in either Palermo or Trapani, Sicily, at that time part of the Kingdom of Sicily. Nothing is known of his early musical education. In 1672 he was sent to live with a relative in Rome.  It is generally believed by modern scholars that while there he was schooled by the composer Giacomo Cassini. It is also believed by many that he must have had contact with teachers from Northern Italy, since his early works show influence by Alessandro Stradella and Giovanni Legrenzi. Continue reading
May 9th:
Giovanni Paisiello
By Giovanni di Napoli
Giovanni Paisiello was born on May 9th, 1740 in Roccaforzata, a small town near Taranto in the Apulian region of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The son of a veterinarian, he received his first instruction in music at the local Jesuit school, which he attended for eight years. The boy's musical talent soon attracted the attention of Don Girolamo Carducci, who, in 1754, succeeded in having the youth attend the Conservatorio di S. Onofrio, Naples' preeminent institution for musical training. Continue reading
May 18th:
Diogenes Need Have Looked No Farther: The Biography of Giovanni Falcone
By Niccolò Graffio
The American fascination with criminals has always been something of a mystery to me. Criminals rob, rape and murder with impunity, yet somehow the worst of them all too often manage to garner the best press. This is not a recent phenomenon in American history. As far back as the 19th century, “dime novels” chronicled the exploits, real and imagined, of various unsavory types such as Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Cole Younger and the Dolan Gang. Rather than denounce the anti-social proclivities of these sordid characters, more often writers held them up as people to be admired, if not in fact to be emulated. Continue reading
May 24th:
Who’s Happier than Me?: The Biography of Eduardo De Filippo
By Niccolò Graffio
The process of centralizing the film industry in Italy, begun by the proponents of the Risorgimento almost from the time of that industry’s creation and expedited by the Fascists, virtually snuffed out the embryonic film companies that had sprung up in places like Naples and Sicily. That and the advent of sound film (along with its vastly increased costs) insured that only films produced in the movie studios of Rome or Northern Italy would ever see the light of day. Continue reading
May 25th:
Remember Bitonto!
By Giovanni di Napoli
May 25th marks the anniversary of the Battle of Bitonto (1734), the key engagement between the Spanish Bourbons and Austrian Hapsburgs over the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies during the War of the Polish Succession (1733-1738).  The battle and its aftermath (the Treaty of Vienna) brought Austrian rule in Southern Italy to an end and won "the most beautiful crown in Italy" for Charles of Bourbon, the eldest child of King Philip V of Spain and his second wife, Elizabeth Farnese. Continue reading