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Happy Birthday Severino!

by Lindsay Hansen Brown


In this multipart presentation subtitled “Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Italian flute virtuoso Severino Gazzelloni (1919–1992),” John Bailey began with a brief overview of the flutist’s life, including his 25-year position at the RAI National Symphony Orchestra. Gazzeloni was born in 1919, began playing flute at age 7, wrote his autobiography in 1984, and died in 1992 at age 73. As a soloist, he played a broad variety of works by Mozart, Bach, Handel, Boccherini, Schubert, and Saint-Saens. He played in films after the war and collaborated with Fellini’s scorer, Nino Rota.

Gazzelloni was most famous for championing modern music, and from1949 on developed avant-garde techniques. At Darmstadt he met Boulez, Stockhausen, Nonno, Messiaen, Berio, and Cage. He premiered many pieces at the Biennale in Venice starting in 1952.

Harvey Sollberger then talked about his translation of Gazzelloni’s 1984 autobiography, which is in development by the NFA’s Special Publications Committee. One of Gazzelloni’s roles was as a revolutionary: He redefined the flute and its possibility. Sollberger said the book should naturally appeal to flutists but also to anyone interested in avant-garde music post-WWII and in Italian history, specifically the Nazi occupation of Italy, Italian attitudes toward sex and gender, and the idea of Italian showbiz and celebrity.

Finally, two students of Gazzelloni’s, Carol Wincenc and Claudia Anderson, spoke about their studies in Italy with the flutist, who spoke no English. Their experiences were life-changing, and they both noted that Gazzelloni did not differentiate between old and new music and that he loved working with his students.