P Giorza, Three Anthems for St. Francis Cathedral

For choir with soloists and organ – Melbourne, 1873-4
Edited by Richard Divall
Australian Music Series – MDA038
ISBN 978-0-9925673-7-8 / ISMN 979-0-9009655-7-8

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Born in Milan in 1832, Paolo Giorza was one of the interesting number of Italian composers who came to Australia from the Gold Rush period onwards. Giorza studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Milan, and achieved some considerable success with his ballets, the first of which, il Giucatore was premiered at the Teatro della Canobbiana in Milan in 1853 followed by a season of his second ballet Un Fallo which was staged at La Scala, Milan in the following year. Giorza’s first opera Corrado, Console di Milano was ‘an unmitigated disaster’ at La Scala in 1860.

MDA038 pic3The composer toured widely with various opera troupes and arrived in Sydney in 1871 with the Agathe States Company, staging Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia to approval from the audiences. From then onwards Giorza stayed in the Colonies and carried out conducting work for the theatrical firm of J C Willamson. In 1873 and 1874 Giorza was the organist and choir director at St Francis Church, Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, which then served as the Roman Catholic Cathedral prior to the building of St Patrick’s Cathedral on Eastern Hill. He composed several pieces for the choir, three of which are the works contained in this volume.

Returning to Sydney Giorza was engaged as the music director of the Sydney International Exhibition where he composed the Cantata to the text of Henry Kendall for the opening of the Exhibition on 17 September 1879. Giorza departed Sydney in 1883, though not before composing his Adieu Waltz, which is dedicated to a prominent Italian family who built up a considerable business in that city. Paolo Giorza lost many of his manuscripts in the fires that followed the San Francisco earthquake and after some years teaching died in Seattle in 1914.

The first two Anthems in this edition are set to the texts of the Salve Regina, and the Hymn Tantum Ergo of St Thomas Aquinas for the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The third is a Christmas Anthem set to the text Welcome our Lord the Hope of Israel. The author of the text remains unknown, but the music is joyful, and in a robust theatrical style. Giorza’s sacred music lies more in the realm of Italian opera than of Victorian period music for the Liturgy.