June 6

Puccini and Mascagni as Seen by Viafora 
in Musical America

Last week, we introduced Gianni Viafora and his “Gallery of Celebrities” in Musical America.[1] Today we showcase his drawings of Puccini and Mascagni and compare them with contemporary photographs of the composers. We leave you to compare the skill and amusing refinement with which this all-but-forgotten artist depicts his subjects. We also include several texts from Musical America, a remarkable, though little-explored documentary resource, dealing with lesser-known elements of the composers’ lives. And, for the first time, we provide links to entire articles sampled below, no subscription required!


Giacomo Puccini
24 Vol. No. 1 (22 July 1916): 7; Vol. 29 No. 8 (21 December 1918): 1.

Note that Puccini is pictured lake-side, across from which is depicted his villa on Torre del Lago. Note also the tiny singing duck, perched on the end of the composer’s hunting rifle!

Puccini the Hunter
“…duck shooting, which he pursued with more energy than his composing…”

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An anecdote:

“Personalities,” Vol. 13 No. 13 (4 February 1911): 20.

Vol. 13 No. 7 (24 December 1910): 8.

To read the entire article, click here: Puccini at Home”


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Pietro Mascagni 
Vol. 24 No. 14 (5 August 1916): 7;
 Vol. 24 No. 2 (13 May 1916): 29. 

Vol. 23 No. 25 (22 April 1916): 19. 

Two anecdotes:

“What the Gossips Say,” Vol. 6 No. 6 (22 June 1907): 14; “Echoes of Music Abroad,” Vol. 15 No. 24 (20 April 1912): 12. 

Vol. 16 No. 11 (20 July 1912): 27; Vol. 15 No. 24 (20 April 1912): 29. 

To read both articles, click here: Mascagni’s (in)fidelity


Mascagni at the piano…

More Viafora coming soon…

RIPM search tip: For more on Viafora and his drawings in Musical America, access the RIPM Preservation Series: European and North American Music Periodicals, as fill in the following fields: Periodical: Musical America (New York, 1898-1899, 1905-1922 [-1964]), Keyword(s): Viafora.

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[1] See H. Robert Cohen, “Viafora’s ‘Gallery of Celebrities’ in Musical America (1915-1920),” Music Cultures in Sounds, Words and Images: Essays in Honor of Zdravko Blažeković, (Vienna: Hollitzer Verlag, 2018): 535-569.

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Posted June 6, 2018 by Ben Knysak in category "Curios and Chronicles