Luciano Chailly’s “De profundis di Cefalonia” between civil-ethical commitment, theatricality and graphic experimentalism

Alberto Delama
Università degli Studi di Trento. Dipartimento di Lettere e Filosofia


Luciano Chailly (1920-2002) composed De profundis di Cefalonia between 1980 and 1981. The composition, a wide-ranging work employing three choirs, three electronic organs and sixteen timpani, is dedicated to the mem- ory of the Italian soldiers of the Acqui Division who were killed by the Nazis on the Greek island of Cefalonia in September 1943. The choirs sing texts in Italian, German, and Latin; the literary sources are poems by Giuseppe Ravegnani (a scholar and a relative of the composer), Kurt Eisner and Alfons Petzold, and the Latin Psalm 130, De profundis.
The composition stands out in Chailly’s musical production for its daring ex- perimentalism, surprising in many respects, and for its equally experimental notational solutions, particularly for the voice and percussion parts. The De profundis di Cefalonia is one of the composer’s few works that reflect his re- ligious inspiration and ethical-civil commitment in virtually equal measure. Its musical gestures display a notable theatricality, typical of Chailly’s output. 

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