Diciottesimo Colloquio di Musicologia
del «Saggiatore musicale»
Bologna, 21-23 novembre 2014
Roberta Milanaccio (Londra)
‘Autheticity’ of Compositional Thought in Printed Music: Reconsidering the Vaughan Affair
In the late 1950s and early 1960s Casa Ricordi drew criticism regarding the “quality” and “authenticity” of its scores — as press reviews and papers remarked at the time — especially those of Verdi and Puccini. This criticism was first voiced by the young Australian conductor Denis Vaughan. The five or so years following 1958 saw a heated debate not only between publisher and conductor, but also among composers, musicians and musicologists, who began taking sides along with the world’s critics.
The debate initiated by Vaughan marked the starting point of Ricordi’s new editorial ethos, which came to fruition in 1969 through the publication of The Barbiere di Siviglia in its new critical edition. However, my research will focus on, and argues that this change in ethos was already in progress, as part of a renewal process that involved the entire international publishing industry — including Ricordi — and had roots going back to the second half of the 19th century.
The Vaughan affair would seem to highlight a rather banal sensationalist approach by the press, which compelled the world of music to reflect on and argue about a mainly fictitious matter. In addition, my research aims to prove — using the evidence of the publisher-owner’s unpublished documents — that this debate had little bearing on decision-making and the schedule and formalising of agreements between Ricordi and its partners, but draws attention, rather, to the increasingly fraught relationship between the publishing world and intellectual activity.