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Art, History & Politics, Music

Sounds of Captivity

Music by Italian Military Prisoners During WW2

April 24, 2024
6:30 pm

Sounds of Captivity:
Music by Italian Military Prisoners During WWII

A lecture by
M° Francesco Lotoro
Institute of Concentrationary Music Literature / Istituto di Letteratura Musicale Concentrazionaria, Italy

With a live performance of
Elegia in morte di Vincenzo Romeo
by Arturo Coppola (1913-1998)

Francesco Lotoro, piano
Samuel Decaprio, cello


The lecture will explore the musical and artistic production by World War II Italian military prisoners detained in Germany, Russia, and Western Allied camps between 1940 and 1947. Lotoro will discuss for the first time a surprisingly rich creative artistic production that, based on his research, involved more than 100,000 prisoners, thus stressing the crucial hailing role that music played in the traumatic experience of World War II military internment.

The lecture will include the live US premiere of Elegia in morte di Vincenzo Romeo by Arturo Coppola (1913-1998), a duo for piano and cello that Coppola composed in 1944 while interned in the German Stalag XA in Sandboster in memory of Liutenant Vincenzo Romeo, who was brutally shot there.

This event is part of a series on “Memory, Memories, and Memorialization of WWII Italian Captivity”, organized by Elena Bellina (New York University) and Giorgia Alù (The University of Sydney), and co-sponsored by NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, The University of Sydney, The John D. Calandra Institute for Italian American Studies (CUNY), and the Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA). The series aims to investigate how WWII Italian POWs have narrated their long captivity experiences, as well as how these narratives have been recollected and memorialized in Italy, America, Australia, Asia, and Africa.

The dates of these events are particularly meaningful because they will take place right before April 25 in New York and in Europe and on April 25 in Australia, a date that is particularly relevant in Italy and in Australia in relation to the end of World War II. In Italy, April 25 or Liberation Day commemorates the victory of the Italian Resistance Movement over Nazi-Fascism. In Australia and New Zealand, April 25 or ANZAC Day is a National Day of Remembrance that commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars and peacekeeping operations, with particular reference to WWI and WWII.