MUSIC 207a, Topics in Piano, Fall 2008

Professor Curt Cacioppo

“The Italian Keyboard Tradition”

from Landini to Landini

This is a full credit applied music course for intermediate and advanced pianists, which fulfills a humanities requirement and may be used as a music major or minor elective.

Pre-requisite: audition and consent of instructor

Course structure

Primary unit.  Weekly one-hour long private lessons* with the professor, and the student’s two-hour-per-day practice commitment, make for an intensive musical experience leading to end of semester performance on the class recital.  Supplemental coachings and rehearsals may be called at the professor’s discretion.
* There is no lesson fee for this course.

Subordinate unit.  In addition, reading and listening/viewing assignments relating to the overall topic and to each student’s particular repertoire will be required.  Participation in at least three studio classes in which students play for each other and comment on each other’s performance is required.  Attendance at guest colloquia is mandatory – we will have two visitors, organist Robert Gallagher who will discuss and demonstrate music before the invention of the piano, and pianist/composer Yvonne Lee who will play and discuss the monumental Piano Sonata No. 3 of Carlo Alessandro Landini. Professor Cacioppo will also organize a colloquium in which he will discuss and perform a brand new collection of pieces by Marino Baratello based on Dante’s Inferno.

Audition process

To audition, sign up for an audition time with Prof. Cacioppo during the first week of the semester.  You will find the sign up sheet posted on the bulletin board opposite his office, Rm. 221, Union Building. You may contact the Music Department administrative assistant, Amy Rouse, at 610 896 1012, or by email at for information on available audition times or to help sign you in.  Be prepared to demonstrate scales/arpeggios/technical studies, do some sight reading, and play one or two pieces that you have learned previously (for instance, a sonata movement, an etude, or a character piece).  Auditions will be held in Rm. 221 Union. 


This semester’s course will focus on the central contribution of Italy in the evolution of keyboard music and the instrumental developments associated with it.  From the medieval organist Francesco Landini to the contemporary composer Carlo Alessandro Landini, we will explore a heritage that includes composers such as Tarquinio Merula, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Domenico Scarlatti, Baldassare Galuppi, Muzio Clementi, Giuseppe Martucci, Ferruccio Busoni, Goffredo Petrassi, Luigi Dallapiccola, Luigi Nono, and Luciano Berio.  Professor Cacioppo’s involvement with current day Italian composers will offer the opportunity to study music by Marino Baratello, Franco Cavallone, Aldo Clementi, Ada Gentile, Massimo Iamone, Riccardo Piacentini, Barbara Rettagliati, and others, with the availability of online collaboration with these composers.
We will acquaint ourselves with the sound of the early portative organ through recordings and consult early codices such as Squarcialupi and Faenza, read about spinets & virginals and  try pieces on our own clavichord and harpsichord, as well as our baroque style organ.  The role of Cristofori in constructing what we know today as the pianoforte will be considered alongside developments by modern manufacturers such as Fazioli and Borgato.  The discography of Italian keyboard interpreters will include harpsichordist Paola Erdas, organist Massimo Nosetti, pianists Maria Tipo, Maurizio Pollini, Arturo Benedetto Michelangeli, and the player-piano recordings Ferruccio Busoni.  Editorial contributions to the keyboard literature by Longo, Casella, Mugellini et alia will be assessed, as will the pedagogical importance and professional impact of the Imola school.

Piano Topics offered in previous semesters


Masterclasses and recitals presented by guest pianists in the past

Garrick Ohlsson, Claude Frank, Frederic Rzewski, Gilbert Kalish, Dalton Baldwin, Tatiana Nicolayeva, Enrica Cavallo, Charles Abramovic, Alessandra Ammara, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Richard Goode, Roberto Prosseda, Anne Marie MacDermott, Marc Antonio Barone, Deborah Gilwood, Jennifer Tao, Elitza Harbova, Jeanne Stark, Margaret Baxtresser, Linda de Pasquale, Alyssa Leiser, William Appling, Althea Waites, Roger Muraro, Awadagin Pratt, Alison Brewster, Lisa Weiss, Diane Walsh, Riccardo Piacentini, Linda Laurent, Mary Ann Brown, Kenneth Fearn, Charles Gangemi, William Huckaby, Marina Grin, Paul Orgel, Matthew Bengtson, David Allen Wehr, Debra Lew Harder, George Walker, and jazz artists Marian McPartland, Cecil Taylor, Bert Seager, Renee Rosnes, Orrin Evans; harpsichordists Colin Tilney, Kenneth Gilbert, and Adam Pearl, organists Giuseppe Zanaboni, Jeffrey Brillhart, and Robert Gallagher; special lectures by Harvey Sachs (Rubinstein biographer), Dr. Irene Danek (arts medicine, Interlochen Arts Academy), Robert Taylor (owner of the Aeolian Duo-Art player piano company), Richard Freedman (musicologist – on “rubato”), Ingo Hofmann (European trained master piano technician).