So where does Silvio Berlusconi stand on organ-grinders?

Unfortunately Alan Friedman’s excellent authorised bio, My Way, leaves us none the wiser.

Unattributed caricature from

Unattributed caricature from "Tracce dell'emigrazione parmense ed italiana fra XVI e XX secolo." Image: Parma State Archive.

Older readers may recall the PDL’s successful “showgirl” candidate list for the 2009 European Parliament elections. Gabriele Cappelletti wrote that

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]In fairness, suonatori d’organetto may also be accordionists, and that’s probably the most instinctive translation for most Italians. 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?


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