Cellofun Repertoire Library: Geographical Region

In the “Geographical Region” category of the cellofun Repertoire Library both “popular” and “formal” (“Classical”) styles appear together for each region.

Here then are our main geographical regions:

  1.  France/Belgium
  2.  Germany/Austria
  3.  Italy
  4.  Spain/Portugal
  5.  UK/Ireland
  6.  Central, East, and Southeast Europe
  7.  Northern Europe
  8.  Latin America
  9.  North America
  10.  Russia/Soviet Republic

This category of “Geographical Origen”, has, like all the other classification categories, its limitations and ambiguities. For example:

To which geographical region belong the popular traditional fiddle tunes “Turkey in the Straw” and “Arkansas Traveller” ? Both are considered to be USA fiddling tunes, but they are so heavily inspired and influenced by the Irish fiddling legacy that they also often figure in collections of Irish fiddle tunes! This raises a more general question: how does one classify music written by an immigrant to another geographical region ? Astor Piazzolla is a good example of this situation: born to Italian parents in Argentina he grew up in New York before returning to Argentina at the age of 16. He plunged into eclectic studies of jazz, tango and classical music and eventually went to study composition in Paris, where he discovered his personal style of “argentinian” ??!!  tangos with strong jazz and classical influences. The result of such stylistic fusion – apart from being absolutely wonderful music – was a nuisance for the traditional argentinians and can still be a headache for librarians because of the classification/cataloguing problems that his music poses, not only stylistically (is this “popular” or “classical” music) but also in terms of geographical region.

And in which geographical region(s) can we classify the music of Fritz Kreisler who, although born in Austria had a very international education from a young age (studying in Paris as a child) and divided his later life very much between Europe and the USA.

Other cases of immigrants or global wanderers are not so difficult. Rachmaninoff emigrated to the USA at the age of 45, lived there for the next 24 years and ultimately became an american citizen. But he continued writing music very much in his “russian” style, although with increasing american influences. Gershwin – along with many other north american composers of the 20th century – was born to polish jewish parents, but because he grew up in the USA his music is 100% American. In fact, when we look at the authors of the greatest hits of USA popular music (jazz, pop etc) it is astonishing to observe the huge proportion of composers of eastern european jewish origin. This is such a beautiful example of cross-cultural enrichment: jewish classical music heritage + afro-american influences = magic !!

Examples abound in all the musical periods. Several centuries earlier, Diego Ortiz (1510-1570’s) and Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805)  provide similar cross-border interest. While the italian Boccherini spent much of his professional life working for the spanish court in Madrid, Ortiz, a spaniard, did exactly the reverse (but 200 years earlier), working most of his life for the Naples court.

Closer to our english-speaking homes, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were heavily influenced by music from the USA, especially the afro-american based styles. The teenage Lennon would go down to the docks in Liverpool, meeting the sailors on the ships coming in from the USA to try and obtain the latest recordings. Now that is another beautiful example of cross-cultural enrichment: Africa + USA + the British Lennon = the international magic of The Beatles!

This phenomenon of cross-cultural enrichment and geographic irrelevance has increased exponentially over the last century with the increasing ease of international travel and communication. Nowadays, a large proportion of the world’s population not only has the possibility of 24/7 inter-cultural communication with anywhere on the planet but also benefits from a multicultural genetic makeup. John Lennon once again gives us a great example of this beautiful process: with his partner, the Japanese Yoko Ono, they moved to the USA, where their child grew up. This makes Julian Lennon a wonderful mix of british, japanese and north-american DNA and culture.

When we have a doubt about into which geographical region, historical period or genre to classify a piece, rather than choosing just one category, we simply put it in all the categories into which it fits.