Antiche Danze Italiane for wind orchestra,Op. 4
by Alberto Secondo Gallo
Ancient Italian Dances for Wind Orchestra is a three-movement suite based on folk melodies and
dance music by Italian authors who lived between the 16th and 17th centuries.
The first movement is a counterpoint piece elaborated on the theme of the Ballo di Mantova (Mantuan
Dance), a folk song dating back to the end of the 16th century attributed to Giuseppino del Biado, a
Mantuan author who lived between the 16th and 17th centuries. This melody originated at the
Gonzaga court, but it spread throughout Europe, giving rise to many versions in different countries.
It is possible to find traces of it also in well-known pieces of the classic repertoire, such as the famous
The Moldau (Vltava) by Bedrich Smetana (1824 – 1884), and even in the Israeli national anthem (the
Yiddisch song Hatikvah), clearly based on the tune attributed to del Biado.
The second movement is taken from the melody of the Ballo del fiore (Flower Dance), a dance music
by Fabrizio Caroso (Sermoneta, between 1526 and 1531 – after 1605), who was active as a writer,
composer, choreographer and dance teacher. Caroso’s fame, actually, is linked above all to important
treatises on the art of dance. The melody of the dance, originally in binary time and fast, was modified
in the metrics (which became ternary) and slowed down to become an Andante maestoso.
The third movement is developed in the form of a march. The main theme is taken from the Aria su
una bergamasca (Air on a bergamasca) by Marco Uccellini (Forlimpopoli, c.1603 – 1680), composer
and violinist active in Modena and Parma in the mid-seventeenth century. Uccellini wrote mainly
instrumental music, including sonatas and concertos for violin, operas and ballets. The bergamasca
consists of a dance music in binary time, composed in form of variations on a ground bass (such as
the passacaglia and the chaconne, which however are mainly in ternary time). The melody of the Aria
was chosen as theme for the march, and some variations were used as material for the exposition and
the development. The Trio, in Bb major, opens with an original melody, derived from the initial