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Newly Digitized: Perger’s Signor Formica

Viennese cellist, composer, and conductor Richard von Perger (1854-1911) began his musical career relatively late, studying cello and composition with Schmidtler and Zellner beginning in 1870. This unpublished early opera dates to 1879, shortly before he began lessons with Johannes Brahms (although Peter Clive suggests in Brahms and His World: A Biographical Dictionary that Perger’s study with Brahms may be apocryphal).

A comic opera in three acts, based on E. T. A. Hoffmann’s novella, Signor Formica tells the story of the 17th-century Neapolitan painter Salvator Rosa’s adventures in Rome, and the series of tricks he plays – with the help of an acting troupe led by Signor Formica – in order to fix up his friend Antonio with Marianna, in defiance of her uncle Pasquale Capuzzi, an aesthete with delusions of musical talent. The librettist is unknown, although Perger wrote the text for at least two of his other theatrical works, Der Richter von Granada (1889) and Die 14 Nothhelfer (1891). This may be an autograph manuscript; it’s also a relatively clean copy, with only occasional corrections and scratched-out measures, and stage directions indicated throughout.

Signor Formica, Act I, scene 1, Mus 780.741.605

Signor Formica, Act I, scene 1, Mus 780.741.605

  • Signor Formica. Vocal score
    Signor Formica : komische Oper in drei Aufzügen / von Richard von Perger ; Klavierauszug mit Singstimmen. 1879.
    Mus 780.741.605

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Newly Digitized: Student Compositions by Charles Lefebvre

At the end of the academic year, as we finish writing exams and papers (and grading exams and papers), it seems like a good moment to take a look at two student compositions by Charles Lefebvre (1843-1917), each with corrections by Charles Gounod. Lefebvre began studying with Gounod in 1861, before entering Ambroise Thomas’s composition class at the Paris Conservatoire in the fall of 1863. He later recalled that,

“For me, the greatest influence Gounod exerted, at that time, was less the result of lessons, properly speaking, than of our frequent conversations, in which, responding to the work I submitted, the teacher elaborated on such and such a musical subject, such and such a point of technique or the history of our art, in the most illuminating speeches, often reinforced by examples drawn from the masters, which Gounod sang in his soft, uniquely charming voice, as I have never since heard them interpreted” (loosely translated from “La vie intime d’un grand musicien Charles Lefebvre,” 349).

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