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Washington

Muti explores Ardeatine massacre with Schuman Symphony

1968 work by US composer on WWII atrocity on Feb 22-23

Muti explores Ardeatine massacre with Schuman Symphony

Washington, February 19 - The Chicago Symphony Orchestra directed by Riccardo Muti on Thursday will perform for the first time the Symphony N. 9 by American composer William Schuman called 'Le Fosse Ardeatine' - an homage to the victims of the massacre by Nazis at the Ardeatine Caves outside Rome on March 24, 1944. Muti in an interview to the Chicago Tribune spoke about the little-known symphony, explaining that the brutality of the WWII mass killing "is still an open wound for Italians" because of the way it happened and its brutality. The conductor said he was unacquainted with Schuman's work before becoming the musical director of the CSO. He told the newspaper that a broadcaster at a local radio in Chicago first spoke to him about the symphony, saying "you Italians should know it". "When I saw the title I was immediately impressed that an American composer had written" it, Muti said. The man was Steven Robinson, the former general manager of a local radio and the president of podcasting company New Media Productions. Schuman, a Pulitzer Prize winner, composed the symphony in 1968, the year after he visited the Ardeatine Caves. Schuman, who died in 1992 aged 81, later explained he had used that title for his symphony "not for a musical but for a philosophical reason". "You have to come to terms with the past in order to build the future", the composer said. "But in this exercise, I am an enemy of oblivion". "Regardless of the future my symphony will have, wherever it will be played, the public will remember", he explained. Muti spoke about the terrible revenge perpetrated by German occupying forces, who killed 335 Italians in retaliation to a partisan attack in Rome the previous day against German SS police forces. "They needed 10 Italians for one German" victim in the retaliatory killing, noted Muti . "It wasn't a military action, it was a terrorist action". "In the heart and memory of Italians, the Ardeatine Caves represent one of the most cruel things, because poor children were taken overnight and brutally killed", he said. "Through music we want to make people aware of the danger and the possibility of disasters and human cruelty at any time", Muti said. The conductor added that, although musicians are not politicians, any choice, even a musical one "is a political action in any case". Muti has chosen Mozart's Requiem for the second part of the concert. "It is a requiem for poor people who were killed in the Ardeatine caves and for all people suffering every day due to the cruelty and brutality of some dictators in Syria, for the Taliban", he noted. The concert, which will be attended by the Italian ambassador to the US, Armando Varricchio, will be preceded by a debate with material presented in cooperation with the Consulate General and the Italian Cultural Institute in Chicago. The symphony will also be performed on February 22 and 23, the days preceding the anniversary of the mass killing.

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