Oral Histories

Interview of Clara Castelnuovo-Tedesco

Wife of composer and pianist Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
La Sua Fede
Andrade, Rebecca
Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Clara
Persons Present:
Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Andrade. Lorenzo Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Castelnuovo-Tedesco's younger son, was present during some of the early sessions.
Place Conducted:
Castelnuovo-Tedesco's home in Beverly Hills, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Rebecca Andrade, assistant editor, Oral History Program, UCLA. Andrade prepared for the interview by chatting with associates of the composer in the Los Angeles music community and studying standard library references, such as David Ewen's The New Book of Modern Composers and the Encyclopedia Judaica.
Processing of Interview:
Transcription of the tapes and the initial audit editing were done by the interviewer. She checked the transcript against the original tape recordings, editing for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling and verifying proper nouns. Words and phrases inserted at the time of editing have been bracketed. Castelnuovo-Tedesco reviewed and approved the edited transcript. She provided the Italian spellings of some names mentioned and answered the editor's queries. At her request, an excerpt from her husband's autobiography was included in the volume. Mitch Tuchman, senior editor, reviewed the edited transcript. Intrigued by the appearance of certain Spanish phrases, such as como se dice and como se llama , he checked the original tape recordings. There he found that the phrases transcribed in Spanish (and subsequently rendered in Italian by Castelnuovo-Tedesco in her review) had been recorded in Italian as had other Italian words and phrases, which had been deleted during the original transcription. Some English language questions and responses had also been deleted. With the aid of Sylvia Tidwell, an assistant editor with a knowledge of Italian, all of this material was restored; the entire manuscript was then reedited. At Castelnuovo-Tedesco 's request, Nick Rossi wrote the introduction. Other front matter and the index were prepared by Oral History Program staff.
3.5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Alfredo Forti's woolen mills — Siblings — Studying many languages — The family moves from Prato to Florence, Italy — The geographic origins of the Jews of Italy — The role of Jewish traditions in the family — World War I hospital work — Musical education — Private lessons in literature — Meeting Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco socially — Mario's family background — Looking at childhood photographs — Letter from a colleague of Mario — Two singers: Memmi Strozzi and Madeleine Grey.
Derivation of the name Castelnuovo-Tedesco — Family photos — Mario's early inclination toward music — Studying in Florence with Ildebrando Pizzetti — Marriage — Singing Mario's songs and those of Debussy.
Florence: the music and fine arts community — Friendships with Igor Stravinsky, Jascha Heifetz, and Arturo Toscanini — Mario's working habits — Early married life — Birth of sons, Pietro and Lorenzo — Their upbringing, religious training, and musical education — A granddaughter studies piano.
The coming of fascism — Emigration from Italy with the help of Toscanini, Heifetz, and Gregor Piatigorsky — Performance of Mario's music prohibited by the Fascists — The Jews hidden in convents by anti-Fascist priests — The situation rapidly deteriorates for Italian Jews after the Rome-Berlin Axis Pact — Fate of the family — Concertizing in America as a livelihood — Amelia Rosselli's tragic life — Settling in Larchmont, New York — Impressions of the voyage to America — Aldo Bruzzichelli.
Initial impressions of New York — A safe life for emigres in New York— Moving to California — Music for the movies — Teaching, working freelance for the studios, and composing for himself -- Well-known and not so well-known pupils — Relative lack of classical music performances in Los Angeles—American reception of Mario's music — The decline of vocal chamber music — Friends among the Italian anti-Fascists.
Pizzetti's influence on Mario — The relation of Mario's music to that of seminal, early twentieth-century composers—Music for voice and overtures for Shakespeare's plays -- Mario's development in the classical musical tradition — An excerpt from Mario's autobiography -- "Modern life spoils things" -- Becoming American citizens — The Castelnuovo-Tedesco Society — Current performances — Requests for manuscripts.