Program Elisabetta Brusa

My friend Chuck just turned me on to the Italian composer Elisabetta Brusa, born in 1954, a product of (and now producer for) the Milan Conservatory. Let’s just call her my latest obsession.

Her orchestral works are a) enjoyable, b) playable, and c) extremely programmable. For example, the above work is a response to Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream music. So here’s an idea for a late June program:

BRUSA Messidor – 12′
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 (“Elvira Madigan”) – 30′

MENDELSSOHN Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream – 12′
SCHNITTKE (k)ein Sommernachtstraum – 12′
ALFVÉN Midsommarvaka – 14′

Or take her symphonic poem, Florestan, an ode to the pseudonym Schumann bestowed upon the fiery, voluble side of his personality:

BRUSA Florestan – 16′
SCHUMANN, CLARA Piano Concerto in A Minor – 24′

SCHUMANN, ROBERT Symphony No. 3 (“Rhenish”) – 32′

Or perhaps her molto misterioso symphonic poem Merlin:

which would work great on a Halloween program with l’Aprenti sorcier and the Harry Potter suite.

I could imagine her Firelights on a piece with Stravinsky and Respighi:

BRUSA Firelights – 8′
CASELLA Violin Concerto – 32′

STRAVINSKY Fireworks – 5′
RESPIGHI Pini di Roma – 22′

She’s also got two kickass symphonies, the second of which is titled Nittemero, combining the Ancient Greek words for ‘night’ and ‘day’:

BOULANGER D’un matin de printemps – 5′
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 1 – 24′

BRUSA Nittemero Symphony – 29′

And there’s plenty more in her repertoire. A suite of short character pieces based on Italian fairy tales (Favole) that would pair nicely with Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite; a gorgeous overture-length “Wedding Song” with a great solo cello part which I could imagine on a program with Debussy’s Ibéria or, ooooh yeah, Torke’s “An Italian Straw Hat“; and a variety of other single movement works that could fit just about anywhere you’d like to put them.

Brusa also writes (in English!) coherently and interestingly about music and her own process. Here’s a great essay simply titled “Composing“.

OK conductors, I’ve just given you like five excellent ideas about how to incorporate this brilliant lady’s music into your programs, so please go develop, improve upon, and PROGRAM them, and thanks to Charles who is already doing so!

One Comment


I’m playing her “Wedding Song” next season. And Messidor is the piece I heard that got me excited about Brusa. It’s high on my list of works to get to. Thanks for the shout out, Will.

(remember when blogs had “pingbacks?” Oh, those heady days of webmasters gone by.)

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