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Still, music remained an important part of Finzi’s life. When fascist guards arrived to arrest him and his family, the guards happened to be more interested in robbing the Finzis of valuables than in performing an actual arrest, so the whole family managed to get away and, eventually, find another hiding place. To express his gratitude to the Lord for such a narrow escape, Finzi composed his famous “Salmo per Coro e Orchestra” (“Psalm for Choir and Orchestra”). However, Finzi was both physically and morally exhausted by the blows he had suffered in past years, and he died a few months later, before the war had ended.
After Finzi’s death, his scores went to his youngest sister Ada Finzi, and then to a schoolmate and friend, musicologist Giulio Confalonieri. When Confalonieri died many years later, in 1972, a housekeeper called Bruno Finzi, and told him: “I have a trash can full of your father papers. Do you happen to be interested in them?”
Bruno Finzi kept them. In the 1990s, an old friend of his, a pianist, was looking for new music, and so the younger Finzi offered his father’s scores. Thus began the rediscovery of Aldo Finzi’s music. This month’s debut of “La Serenata al Vento” featured the Donizetti Theatre’s orchestra; the singers were all Israelis originally from the Former Soviet Union, while pupils of Hamartef Theater School and Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, both in Jerusalem, made the sets and costumes. Shortly thereafter, the opera was also performed in Jerusalem for the first time.
“The first time I protested what had happened to my father was in 1950,” Bruno Finzi explained presenting a concert of his father’s music a few days before the Serenata debut. “I was 25, and I caught a train and went to Rome. I managed to speak with an undersecretary to the prime minister. He listened to my story, and he offered to help me to have the music performed in Bergamo’s Teatro delle Novità. But I vehemently refused: My father’s music had to be performed in La Scala or nowhere else, I thought. Today, I am not disappointed that La Scala doesn’t show any particular interest in my father’s music. On the contrary, I feel grateful to La Scala, because at least the jury of the contest did not choose another winner over my father.”
Rossella Tercatin is a reporter for Pagine Ebraiche, the magazine of Italian Jewry.