Ezra Pound

Frottola, for solo violin

    Description by Donato Mancini

    Ezra Pound's Frottola for solo violin is a tiny outcropping of his second opera Cavalcanti. To compose the piece, he used the same technique he used in all his operas: he translated the poetic/metric rhythms poetry into musical ones. It is useful to think of his music as a kind of commentary on the poetry, even when, as in this case, it's a commentary mostly on its verbal rhythms. Frottola transubstantiates into music the poem by Guido Cavalcanti called "Gianni quell Guido." Pound first worked directly with the poetry of Cavalcanti, who was a teacher of Dante Alighieri, as early as 1910, when he launched into a translation of a selection of his sonnets. From the start Pound found great affinity in Cavalcanti's work with his own views, particularly on the subject of love. But he was also aware of the difficulty of rendering thirteenth century Italian into the mixed idiom of twentieth century American and Victorian English he wrote in, especially since at the time he barely knew enough Italian to effectively order a pizza. He later admitted to James Joyce that he'd quite botched the translations. Setting Cavalcanti's words as music later on -- here and in the opera -- was partly meant to rectify that early blunder, since his deep personal interest in the poet had not lessened. He said, to paraphrase, "I couldn't translate him, so I had to set him to music."

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2003 Other Minds Records 1005