Gabriele D'Annunzio

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Gabriele D'Annunzio was one of the most influential figures in the Italian literary and musical world. His exotic, picturesque, mannered, and often cruel -- even verging on sadistic -- aesthetic, known…
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Gabriele D'Annunzio was one of the most influential figures in the Italian literary and musical world. His exotic, picturesque, mannered, and often cruel -- even verging on sadistic -- aesthetic, known as dannunzianesimo, the Italian equivalent of the French Decadent movement, influenced many composers. He was a distinguished music critic, particularly noted for his early appreciation of Wagner and admiration of the then-obscure Monteverdi. In fact, some of the extreme mannerisms of Monteverdi and his contemporaries are reflected in his writing. However, not all of his work is in this style; he also wrote simple love poems that Tosti, among other salon-style composers, frequently set. Aside from inspiring and advocating for composers, he wrote several libretti: D'Annunzio and Pizzetti closely collaborated on incidental music for several of his plays. His life was a colorful one, including several scandalous love affairs (the most famous was with actress Eleanora Duse) and an almost obsessive nationalism, including passionate support for Mussolini and Fascism. He published his first poems at the age of 16, in 1879, with a book of poems, Primo Vere, and was soon also writing for newspapers and joining the major literary societies in Rome. His best-known novel, Il trionfo della morte (The triumph of death), was published in 1894; in 1900, he published Il fuoco (The fire), a very thinly veiled account of his affair with Duse. He followed that in 1904 with the drama, La figlia di Jorio (Jorio's daughter). In 1910, his debts forced him to flee Italy for France, where he wrote the mystery play, Le martyre de Saint S├ębastien, for which Debussy wrote the incidental music. In 1919, to protest Italy's loss of the town of Fiume in the Treaty of Versailles, he and his troops occupied Fiume (now Rijeka, Croatia), where he ruled as dictator until 1920. In 1937, he was named president of the Italian Royal Academy.