MORNING IN IOWA
Musical score by Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco
for the recital of the poem “Morning in Iowa” by Robert G. Nathan
In 1953 Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, one of the greatest and inspirational Italian composers of the Nineteenth century, read “Morning in Iowa” by Robert Nathan. Nathan, a poet, screenwriter and novelist, is considered as one of the most important writers of North-American literature of that time. Fourteen years earlier Castelnuovo-Tedesco, while at the height of his successful artistic career, left Italy to escape racial persecution, and became well known in the USA as a composer and writer of Hollywood music scores. His repertoire of more than 150 titles, includes chamber music, vocalist pieces, concerts and operas. Some artists who have performed his works are: Arturo Toscanini, Jascha Heifetz, Andés Segovia, Gregor Piatigorsky, John Barbirolli and Walter Gieseking.
Nathan’s poem tells the story of a boy and girl who travel across the huge American continent and describes their epic journey through vast open spaces . Castelnuovo-Tedesco was inspired by this poem and decided to write the music to accompany its public recital. The Florentine writer, who was also a friend of Puccini and Toscanini, used his music to bring to life the skies of the Midwest and the majestic Mississippi. He managed to fuse the Italian traditions with jazz and native American music.The result is like a large musical and poetical fresco made up of 36 paintings, where the narrator’s voice and the sound of the clarinet , accordion, guitar, double-bass, percussion, banjo and saxophone all blend together beautifully well.
Morning in Iowa was only performed once for an American radio station during the 1960s and was then forgotten for almost fifty years . In 2006 Lorenzo Micheli found the manuscript at the Library of Congress in Washington. Then in 2008, forty years after the death of Castelnuovo-Tedesco, the work was brought back to life as a musical show combining poetry and visual effects. It toured many Italian theaters and was narrated by David Knopfler, the co-founder of the British group Dire Straits, and was also accompanied by a group made up of some of the best Italian musicians.