The Piece Formerly Known as "The Uccellini"

Oct 24, 2017

Here at WCRB there are a few pieces that, when we play them on the air, we crank the volume on our radios and rock out. But we've just discovered that, for at least three years, we've been attributing one of those pieces to the wrong composer... kind of.

Hands down, our favorite jam is this recording of "Aria sopra la bergamasca," with the Maurice Steger ensemble - partly because it's a very catchy tune, and partly because Maurice Steger is an absurdly talented recorder player. 

We like this tune so much that we asked our summer interns to do what we dubbed the "Uccelini project" - go through the library, look for CDs that might have hidden gems like that one, and listen through the CDs to find the gems. They found some excellent stuff (thanks, Chris and Elliot!), including another recording of the Uccellini piece, this time with the ensemble Red Priest: 

But today, in the process of checking through some audio files, I made a shocking (to us) discovery: this Baroque dance suite from "Il Scolaro," by Gasparo Zannetti, ends with a familiar tune... our favorite Bergamasca. 

So this means... the Uccellini piece wasn't actually written by Uccellini? It was written by Zannetti? Our minds are blown.

Should we have picked up on this sooner? Probably. The Uccellini title, "Aria sopra la Bergamasca," translates as "aria on the bergamask," but since a bergamask is a common term in Baroque pieces, as it's a type of folk dance, we never thought that our favorite jam was based on the work of another composer. 

So now, we'll think of the Uccellini piece the same way we think of Brahms' "Variations on a theme by Haydn," or Beethoven's numerous sets of piano variations on songs written by other composers. It's just another case of one composer taking a piece written by another, and reworking it in a different style.