Translated by Michael Quinn
The Timpani and Percussion Instruments in 19th-Century Italy
Prof. Renato Meucci's treatise on 19th-Century Italian percussion practice and instrument fabrication, which first appeared in 1998 in "Studi Verdiani No. 13" of the Istituto Nazionale di Studi Verdiani, and available in Italian only, has now been translated into English making its pertinent contents available to a wider practicing musical public.
From the introduction:
The nearly total absence of historical studies dealing with Italian percussion has led to insufficient recognition of the role that these instruments played in the Italian orchestra of the 1800’s, and to the erroneous conviction that there was no experimentation on the part of Italian instrument makers, or that what there was, was totally irrelevant. The situation appears quite different however if one goes to the available historical sources on the subject. These give us, instead, a glimpse of performance practice and inventive activity in Italy in constant ferment during the course of the century. It is appropriate therefore to attempt to shed light on the characteristics of construction, the terminology, and the components of this neglected section of the 19th-century orchestra, with the intent to illustrate musical practice that, although seeming very near to us, differed greatly from present custom. Moreover, it is hoped that this research will contribute to critical editions of Italian scores of the 19th century, which inevitably face the intriguing singularities of this many-faceted register of the orchestra.
— Renato Meucci
From the Translator’s Preface:
The very first time I attended a lecture by Renato Meucci that dealt with the subject of this handbook, I began to think of translating his useful and sometimes startling research for those that need it most: performing percussionists and their conductors. Here was truly new and clearly-explained information. Since then, the many questions I have received (even in Italy) and the frequent postings on the Percussive Arts Society’s website are a good indication of the interest in, and the confusion surrounding, the material presented here.
— Michael Quinn