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Thursday 15 November 2012

A House Near Luccoli by DM Denton


I love the stories in history that wait patiently to be lifted out of the shadows, offering room for the imagination to balance between the known and unknown; stories that are fresh and fascinating, about someone or something obscurely rooted in the past which, with attention and nourishment, might grow and blossom into enlightening entertainment for the present.

In 2002, while driving to work, I was fortunate to be near enough to the Canadian border to listen to CBC Radio 2, specifically a program called In the Shadows. The show highlighted the lives and works of artists—mainly musical—who for a variety of reasons had been largely ignored or forgotten. One morning a 17th Century Italian composer, whom I and obviously many others had never heard of, was featured. His music was stunning: fluid and melodic, with clear expressive vocals and distinct instrumentations. His story was replete with romance and intrigue, triumphs and tragedy, like an opera drawing on the divinity and failings of gods and men.

By the time I pulled into the parking lot at work, I knew why I was listening. I “knew” Alessandro Stradella. I recognized his distinct voice, his swaying form, his infectious smile, and his wandering heart. I had witnessed the rise and fall of his talents, how his music had showered him with forgiveness if not fortune. I spent the rest of that morning and many hours more in pursuit of him, my writer’s urge “to do something with him” easier stirred than accomplished. He was so little on the pages of Google searches and music histories; a desire to create something significant out of my interest in him was soon frustrated and abandoned.

It wasn’t until 2005 that I returned to Stradella as the novel subject I was looking for. The timing must have been right, for “suddenly” resources, although still not in abundance, were easier to find. As I read my costly used copy of Alessandro Stradella, the Man and his Music by musicologist Carolyn Gianturco, I found an opportunity for imagining my way into his story, focusing on his last fateful days in Genoa—not to change history but quietly humanize it, not merely to appreciate a great musician but personalize him, to reveal the ordinary in the extraordinary and the significance of the insignificant. Equipped with specifics and speculation, a growing CD library of his music, and a fictional female protagonist stepping out of my own hopes and disappointments, I was ready to begin.

A House Near Luccoli is a novel of chance encounters, beautiful music and the paradox of genius, focusing on one of the most legendary and undervalued figures of Italian Baroque music, Alessandro Stradella. Published by All Things That Matter Press. It is set in Genoa 1681-1682.

It was published at the end of August (2012) by All Things That Matter Press, a small publisher based in Maine.

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1 comment:

Tinney Heath said...

I love it that this book was inspired by listening to music. Makes me want to read it. (And to listen to some of Stradella's music!)