Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The son of Vincenzo Di Cecco (born circa 1860) and Giacinta Tavani Di Cecco (born circa 1859), F. (Falco) Antonio Di Cecco was an Italian American composer and conductor. He was born on August 19, 1888, probably in Fara San Martino, Abruzzo, Italy. His father, Vincenzo, traveled to the U.S. in 1893 on the S.S. Elysia (departed from Naples, Italy), and took temporary residence in Philadelphia, PA. Three years later, Vincenzo, his wife Giacinta, and their sons Antonio, Raffaele (born circa 1882), and Nicola (born circa 1895) embarked on the S.S. Taormina in Le Havre, France, finally reaching New York City in May 1896. The family settled in the Philadelphia area. In the following years, Giacinta gave birth to two daughters: Mary (born circa 1898), and Susie (born circa 1902).
Not much is known about Di Cecco's upbringing and early education, and existing information was gathered from immigration records, a narrow group of newspaper clippings, and the materials in the collection. Di Cecco served in the Italian military between 1915 and 1919. His earliest dated work in the collection, a composition for military band titled "Ricordo d'Albania" (English: "Souvenir of Albania"), was composed in Sarandë (Italian Santiquaranta), Albania, in 1917, the same year in which Italy established its protectorate in the Southern part of that country. The notebooks in the collection show that Di Cecco took formal lessons of orchestration and history of music between the late 1910s and the early 1920s, probably in Bologna, Italy, where he graduated in composition at the Accademia Filarmonica. While living in Bologna, Di Cecco composed a small set of piano preludes ("Trittico (Piccoli Preludi)," 1920), and began to work on a ballet, "Primavera Italica" ("Italian Spring"), with a libretto by Concetto Valente. Another march for military band, simply titled "Marcia militare," was probably also composed in those years. Contemporary press from 1924 suggest that Di Cecco also studied at the "Conservatorio Rossini," perhaps alluding to the institution of that name in Pesaro, Italy. However, Di Cecco's presence in that city is unsupported by any evidence from the collection.
In the following years, Di Cecco was active both in Philadelphia and in Italy. In October 1923, he conducted his own ballet "Primavera Italica" at the Metropolitan Opera House in Philadelphia. In the fall of 1924, the ballet was again performed in the same theater, along with a movement from Di Cecco's symphony "Sinfonia Idillica." Around the same time, Di Cecco completed another short orchestral work titled "Il Salice" ("The Willow Tree"), and began writing an opera in three acts, titled "Caino" ("Cain"), which he finished in the late 1920s. By 1928, Di Cecco was again in Italy. In that year, he composed the symphonic poem "Festa nuziale" ("Nuptial Celebrations") in Bologna, and an "Inno a San Luigi" ("Hymn to St. Louis") for soprano (or mezzosoprano) and harmonium, with lyrics by don Domenico Ferroni, the parish of Codigoro, Ferrara.
Di Cecco returned to the United States in 1930. The influence of the New Deal cultural climate is evident in his musical output of these years, and particularly in his hymn "Lead Us On, Oh President" (1934), originally including in the lyrics the name of president Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself. In 1939, Di Cecco had a professional copyist preparing separate instrumental parts out of one of his later works, "Philomuse Ouverture," presumably in view of a performance of this piece—although no mention of such performance exists in the collection. Many other works are available in the collection both in full score and separate parts, including "Primavera italica," "Il Salice," and "Marcia militare." As a whole, the collection includes the manuscripts of six orchestral works, two marches, four vocal and choral works, two piano works, one opera, and a ballet, for a total of 16 complete works.
Di Cecco's later years are not documented in the collection. His expense book suggests that he may have temporarily relocated to Los Angeles, California, between 1946 and 1947, although no further evidence is available. F. Antonio Di Cecco died in Philadelphia on January 13 1954, aged 65 years. He was later buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery in Kennett Square, Chester County, PA, not far from Toughkenamon, the town where his sister Mary and her husband Eugene DiFilippo had owned a general store since 1921. He never married.
Sources: Ancestry.com; Keith Craig, New Garden Township (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2010); Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 3, Musical Compositions (Washington, D.C: Library of Congress, Copyright Office, 1925), 732; "Cronache d'arte," Il Carroccio: The Italian Review 10, September 1924, 274; "Orchestral Season Opening Next Week," Philadelphia Inquirer, October 5 1924; "Primavera italica: Antonio di Cecco's Compositions and Lucchese as Soloist," Philadelphia Inquirer, October 15 1924.
This collection includes sixteen complete and unpublished music works by Di Cecco, along with a small collection of personal notebooks and printed music books. It is arranged in three series. Series I includes Di Cecco's manuscript scores and additional materials relating to his music; Series II consists of five handwritten personal notebooks; and Series III includes a small collection of printed music volumes once part of Di Cecco's personal library.
The manuscripts found in Series I include six orchestral works, two marches, four vocal and choral works, two piano works, one opera, and a ballet, for a total of 16 complete works. These materials have been organized by genre, and a separate subseries was associated to each genre. Within each subseries, the works were arranged alphabetically. In the cases in which both a full score and separate parts for a given work are available, the instrumental parts were organized by instrument, in order to allow researchers to focus on specific aspects of a given voice based on what is found in the orchestral score. In all the other cases, separate instrumental parts were grouped together in the same folder so as to facilitate parallel readings and comparisons between different music lines. For more information on this material, please refer to the descriptive notes associated to each subseries.
A small number of personal notebooks are found in series II. Three of them, written in Italian, are related to Di Cecco's musical education. The first notebook, in oblong format, includes Di Cecco's notes on instrumentation and additional music sketches and examples from the repertoire. The other two include notes on European music history, and feature brief biographic entries for many among the most prominent Western composers. The strict chronological order in which the notes are arranged, as well as the regular temporal distance between the dates associated with each group of notes, suggest that Di Cecco probably wrote these notebooks while he was completing his music studies in Italy (perhaps at the Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna). Comprised in the subseries is also an expense notebook with entries dated from 1923 to 1934 (with an additional group of entries from 1946-1947, listed under the title "LOS ANGELES – 1946"). Lastly, the collection includes a notebook with definitions of English terms arranged in alphabetical order, which was probably created by Di Cecco as a vocabulary.
Series III consists of four rare editions of printed music books which once belonged to Di Cecco. Three consist of piano music and exercises: a three-volume edition of Muzio Clementi's instructional piano pieces Gradus ad Parnassum, edited by Bruno Mugellini (Breitkopf and Härtel, ca. 1900); a book of piano exercises and preludes by Henri Herz (Leipzig: C. F. Peters, undated); and Franz Liszt's St. François de Paule marchants marchant sur les flots (Milan: Carisch, undated), originally part of Liszt's two-piece set for piano Deux légendes. The fourth volume is an Italian version of Théodore Dubois's canonical Treatise on counterpoint and fugue (Milan: G. Ricordi, 1905). The series also includes a folder with copies of the front covers of music volumes originally included in the collection, but deaccessioned because of their poor conditions.
Gift of Ralph Leonard DiFilippo and Aida Stainback DiFilippo, 2018 March.
Aida DiFilippo Stainback (born 1926) and Ralph Leonard DiFilippo (born 1930) are the children of Mary Di Cecco and Eugene DiFilippo, and niece and nephew of F. Antonio Di Cecco.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Siel Agugliaro
- Finding Aid Date
- 2018 May 29
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.