Valentina Crespi (born?-died?)

In case anyone should have an idea that all published composers can be found in some dictionary or web site somewhere, here's a profile on the obscure Valentina Crespi.

In my collection Mr. or Ms. Crespi is represented by three pieces published by S.M. Berg in 1917 and 1918 -- Thoughts (No. 35), Memories (No. 50), and Serenata (No. 105). The numbers are the "series" number in Berg's Incidental Series, a collection of photoplay music.

All three pieces reveal an iconoclastic composer who rejects traditional harmonic development, enjoys unusual chords and voice leadings, but still has a capacity for writing a memorable melody. The accompaniment figures suggest someone used to composing on the piano, although in Brian Collins' estimation "the composer had a lover who played the violin."

A search through old copies of Who's Who in Music has shed no light on who Crespi was. It is likely that he or she was too obscure to appear in such tomes. Inquiries to Belwin (the successor to S.M. Berg and named for its founders -- Berg, Levy, and Winkler) go unacknowledged.

With a name like "Valentina," the composer could be female -- but I was fooled once by Irénée Berge (despite the apparently feminine ending "Irénée" is a man's name in France). Others have been fooled by Dorothy Lee (which was a pseudonym of John S. Zamecnik), and Valentina Crespi could be the pseudonym of a different person, so no claims can be made about gender either.

We may never find out about Valentia Crespi, but we do at least have his or her music, so enjoy these mp3 files.

An mp3 file of Serenata No. 105 (by Valentina Crespi, 1917). This is an extract from our score for Assunta Spina, starring the Italian diva Francesca Bertini, which is planned for a future release on DVD.

An mp3 file of Thoughts No. 35 (by Valentina Crespi, 1918). This is an extract from our score for Cobra, on the Kino label, starring Rudolf Valentino and Nita Naldi, and occurs three times in the score as a sort of "seduction" theme.

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