Vincenzo Manno

Symphony in three movements

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In agreement with the heirs of composer Vincenzo Manno (1901-1981), Preludio has the honour of publishing this score, his Sinfonia in three movements for large orchestra.

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Vincenzo Manno is a Roman composer who died in 1981. He grew up in a family of musicians consisting of his father Sigismondo, a composer and band conductor whose compositions include an Overture for piano and two band marches Gilda and Era Novellaand his father's two brothers; one, named Gaetano, 1st trumpet at the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and trumpet teacher at the Conservatorio Cherubini in Florence, and the other, named Vincenzo, conducting teacher at the Conservatorio G. Verdi in Milan.
In agreement with his heirs, Preludio has the honour of publishing this score, his Sinfonia in three movements for large orchestra.

In the 'cultured' musical panorama of 20th century Europe, Sinfonia in three movements certainly represents a remarkable and undisputed example of native Italian neo-classicism. The composed form of the bra- novo, the elegant style of construction, the controlled and casual character of the musical material, and also the Mediterranean expansion of the themes and melodic lines make the work close in spirit and intentions to the major works of the great Italian masters of the 20th century. In the pages of Sinfonia in tre tempi, the Italian musical style from Ilde- brando Pizzetti to Alfredo Casella and Gianfrancesco Malipiero comes to life in an original way, without any plagiarism or quotation. From the latter, in particular, Vincenzo Manno absorbed and personally elaborated the aesthetic-formal lesson. The Roman composer, preserving intact the freshness of the musical ideas - of a straightforward Italian sensibility -, paints colourful landscapes in the three movements that turn out to be extremely different from each other and in some cases also considerably contrasting. However, the composer remains firmly anchored in the same typically classical concept of unitary form, exploiting the melodic molecules present in all three episodes. His knowledge of the orchestra (in part innate and in part acquired through academic study, then enlivened with the direct experience of numerous years of conducting activity) emerges from the limits of prissy and mannerist conventions to become the object of innovative and generative timbral experience.

Given the structure of the composition and the traditionally conventional order of the three movements, and given the grandiosity of the means deployed, the work could also be reread as an excellent example of a concerto for orchestra. The scrupulously organised tripartition would give us full confirmation of this. However, this work by Vincenzo Manno would not be the first example in the history of music; other 20th century Italian and European composers have already left very valuable testimonies. Each tempo of the Sinfonia in tre tempi recalls an autonomous sound world and aesthetic structure, but in each of the three episodes, the use of bitematism and polythematism, as well as the cyclic form (the latter peculiarities typical of the romantic symphonic poem), remains constant. There is also evidence, however, of the general tripartite A-B-A form, as the classical tradition has been used for centuries.

The thematic material springs from a very few, measured melodic elements exploited by the Maestro in their morphological essence with great intelligence and calculated parsimony. They are: the ascending and descending right fourth interval and the semitone interval. Employed in both horizontal and vertical directions, they represent the primary source from which the composer draws. Throughout the work, it is these two elementary cells that continuously generate and enliven the musical fabric. In particular, the right fourths are often multiplied in an ascending horizontal line. Their sum gives rise to another thematic element that is certainly no less important: the seventh. Easily found in all three episodes of the work, it, in its various species, appears as an element opposed to acca- demic tonalism and insinuates itself into the harmonic-chordal fabric as a disturbing element. On the contrary, however, in the evolution of the composition, its presence creates interest and dynamism. Its permanence nullifies the static nature of obsolete consonant constructions and leads to the search for new, unexpected harmonic solutions within which to place and resolve the tensions of the numerous harshly dissonant chords.

Valuable and undoubtedly meritorious is this minimalism of lexical means to which Vincenzo Man- no makes recourse with consummate and shrewd artistic experience. Already great classics in the history of 'cultured' music - including J. S. Bach himself (just to name the greatest) - have made use of them in the distant past and also in more recent times, so that their style and form would be unified and their musical thought would be expressed in a clear and concise manner, and also so that their ideas would be stripped of those trappings that characterise and distinguish a valuable work from a decadent or merely conventional and predictable one.

Giuseppe Caffi

Additional information




Vincenzo Manno


Symphony Orchestra


Paper score, PDF score



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