In an inflammatory piece written October of 1910, an Italian musician named Balilla Pratella defended the music of a Pietro Mascagni as the only person really breaking past the musical stagnation present in Europe at the time. It’s a fascinating article for many reasons, but primarily for my interests, Pratella is really excited about Debussy’s music but has reservations about the degree to which he’s really modern. He says,
“He resorts in his operatic formulas to the obsolete concepts of the Florentine Camerata, which in 1600 gave birth to melodrama, but has not achieved a complete reform of the art of music drama even in its own country.”
Which is just fantastic. All of Classical music goes back to this incredible moment in 1600 when the Italians tried creating secular music. Of course, Pratella was wrong—it’s Schoenberg who ends up really creating “futurist” music, but he was right about where it came from.