International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

Masters of European musical ethnography

Masters of European musical ethnography. Research work, persistence, transformations. Conference for the 150th anniversary of Alberto Favara’s birth (Palermo, February 13th-15th, 2014) 

The Sicilian musician and composer Alberto Favara (Salemi 1863 - Palermo 1923), in the years between 1890 and 1920, transcribed onto pentagram over 1000 musical documents from oral tradition (songs, rhythms and instrumental music), also providing an extensive ethnographic background (concerning performers, lexicon, occasions, symbolism etc.). During his lifetime, Favara also wrote several ethno-musicological articles and edited two albums of Sicilian folksongs arranged for voice and piano. Most of his work remained nevertheless unpublished or little known until the 1950s, when Corpus of Sicilian Folk Music (2 vols) and Writings on Sicilian Folk Music were printed in Palermo (1957 and 1959, respectively). The aim of our Conference is to celebrate the memory of this pioneer in ethnomusicology, pointing out his role in the general context of European research. During the three planned sessions (Europe - Italy - Sicily), the experiences of various scholars, who were active from the end of the 19th century through the first half of the 20th century, will be discussed. In particular, the dynamics of persistence and the transformation of what these scholars collected in the field will be analyzed from the different perspectives of contemporary Italian studies in ethnomusicology. The Conference will end with a round table discussion concerning the state of ethno-musicological research in Sicily, followed by the concert Songs from the country and the sea of Sicily (a selection from Favara’s musical albums for voice and piano). (post by Sergio Bonanzinga)