Berlusconi is not the cause, but rather the consequence, the inevitable and fatal embodiment of the Italian Way (sistema-italia) matured from the Renaissance until today… If Italians lost their heads over organ-grinders 1 instead of beautiful women, Berlusconi would surely have found a way to nominate an entire band.
Friedman’s book is, as he says, an intimate portrait. However, though it throws more light on Berlusconi’s early career as a musical entertainer, it fails to answer this most burning of questions for non-Italians.
Talking the other with someone else about Italian organ-grinders in Greater Russia, I learned about Berlusconi’s efforts, recently rewarded in controversial circumstances, to get his friend Putin to recognise the suffering of Russian Italians under Stalin and have them added to the official list of persecuted minorities. Did this gesture include, he wondered, a nod to the people who brought civilised street music and puppet theatre to Petersburg, Moscow and Odessa in the early nineteenth century?
Or is my blogging this here simply a sign of incipient echolalia, barrel organ syndrome?
- In fairness, suonatori d’organetto may also be accordionists, and that’s probably the most instinctive translation for most Italians. ↩
- Where did Petersburg’s organ-grinders go in winter?
I fear only some of them migrated with the swallows. Featuring Boris Sadovskoy, Yuri Norstein, Aleksey Batalov, Rolan Bykov and Gogol.
- The secret life of organ-grinders
Speculation in French revolutionary fiduciary currency, the murder of the great British ballad-singer, & a revised date (1802) for the start of the supposedly post-Napoleonic emigration of Italian puppeteers & organ-grinders
- A sensational 1810 Parisian fire scene on top of an 1840s Russian barrel organ
But who are the three noseless Austrian ladies?
- On the French penchant for inventing things already in existence elsewhere
François Dominique Séraphin, Bourbon favourite and reputedly the father of ombres chinoises (shadow puppetry), began operating 15 years later than is generally thought, and may have copied his techniques from an itinerant Italian or a London Alsatian. Featuring the memoirs of the valet to the later Louis XVII, early descriptions of the delights of the renovated Palais Royal (including a pygmy show), jolly old Baron Grimm on the lamentable state of French opera, shadow plays, and marionettes, and William Beckford’s favourite designer of theatrical perversions.
- I know where your house lives, but sometimes the front door’s a struggle
Featuring Abel and Marguerite Chevalley and their Concise Oxford French Dictionary.