Italian Cultural Institute
Italian Cultural Institute, 686 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10065
Events at this location
The series aims at highlighting
The series aims at highlighting the stories of Italian artists, scientists, and intellectuals forced to leave Italy for political reasons and racial persecution, and come to the United States.
Historians Renato Camurri and Federico Finchelstein discuss the American experience of two political intellectuals: Gaetano Salvemini and Max Ascoli.
Salvemini and Ascoli who both fled to the US as political dissenters, represent two very different souls of antifascism.
While Ascoli eventually embraced the Italian ambiguous and loaded shift toward democracy, Salvemini remained profoundly critical of Italy’s inability to come to terms with its past and base the newly born republic on a clear seizure from the politics and the representatives of the fascist era.
An acute critic of Italian politics and of the concept of nation state, until 1922, Salvemini believed that Fascism was too small to be a serious political challenge. In his eyes, it was different from nationalism only in its excess, and could be understood within the context of Italian postwar disillusionment. Moreover in his eyes, Mussolini was not fundamentally different from Giolitti. However, after the murder of the socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti in 1924 and Italy’s subsequent turn in a more totalitarian direction, Salvemini became the most vocal leader of the anti-fascist opposition in Florence.
He was arrested in June 1925 for his memberdship in the Florentine Cultural Circle—an anti-fascist organization that included Carlo and Nello Rosselli, Ernesto Rossi, and Piero Calamandrei—and for his involvement in the anti-fascist journal Non Mollare.
He escaped and made his way first to France, then to England, and finally to the United States.
Exile offered Salvemini a “sense of freedom, of spiritual independence.” Rather than “exile” or “refugee,” he preferred the term fuoruscito (political expatriate), “a man who has chosen to leave his country to continue a resistance which had become impossible at home”. He first arrived in the United States in 1927 for a lecture tour and brought with him a clear anti-fascist agenda.
Max Ascoli (1898-1978) was born into a Jewish family in the northern Italian city of Ferrara, which he later referred to as the “cradle of Fascism.” Trained in political philosophy and law, he began teaching in Italian law schools. In 1928, he was arrested after his name was found in the address book of another intellectual charged with clandestine political activities. With his university career in Italy over, Ascoli fled to the United States in 1931 having obtained a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation.
“In correspondence with a fellow exile of Italy, Ascoli observed that there were two currents among Italians in America: those exiles (esuli) who did not intend to become Americans and who live like pilgrims (pellegrini) in expectation of returning to Italy, and those American citizens of Italian origin, including himself, who did not think about returning to Italy.”
He created The Reporter in 1949, a magazine that became a leading voice for liberalism in America for the next 20 years.
Source: Transatlantic Perspectives.
Immage: A meeting o fthe Mazzini Society in New York, 1941
The Divan of Moses-Ibn-Ezra op.
The Divan of Moses-Ibn-Ezra op. 207 (1966), voice and guitar. Luigi Attademo, guitar
Free and open to the public. Make a reservation.
Musing his own life and exile in the last years of life, the Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco decided to dedicate a cycle of song to the Spanish poet Moses Ibn Ezra whose exile from his native Granada disrupted his early life and became a source of inspiration. Castelnuovo Tedesco came himself from a family of Spanish origin that traced its arrival in Italy to the 1492 expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
Born in Florence in 1895, as a young composer he distinguished himself in the cultural milieu of Ildebrando Pezzetti and Alfredo Casella. In 1926 he premiered his first opera, La Mandragola, based on Nicolò Machiavelli’s play, inaugurating a long interest in literature that would lead him to put to music writers such as Aeschylus, Virgil, John Keats, William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, Miguel de Cervantes, Federico García Lorca.
The racial laws of 1938 banned his music from the public cultural scene and put an end to its work in Italy. In 1939 he managed to flee to the US with the help of his friend and admirer Jascha Heifetz who obtained from him a contract with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Castelnuovo Tedesco remained in America working for the film industry as well as a teacher. He composed new works inspired by American literature and by his renewed interest in the Jewish liturgical tradition.
His passion for the guitar was sparked by his encounter with André Segovia in 1932 and the magnificent song cycle The Divan of Moses Ibn Ezra is his last homage to the instrument and the tradition it represents.
Luigi Attademo has performed at many festivals and concert halls the music of contemporary composers. He has appeared on the Italian public Radio3 RAI and Rete Toscana Classica. Working in the archive of the Andrés Segovia’s Foundation he discovered unknown manuscripts of important composers, such as Jaume Pahissa, Alexandre Tansman, and Gaspar Cassadò which he published in the Spanish musicological review La Roseta.
Attademo recorded a CD dedicated to Scarlatti’s Sonatas and one of Bach transcriptions. Other recording include Variations on Folia and Boccherini’s quintets. He received a doctorate in philosophy and composed music for the theatre piece Il canto della Tenebra (Berlin 2004) dedicated to the esoteric Italian poet Dino Campana.