(The Pepperoni Institute)Among the many exciting finds in the revival of old music, none is more noteworthy than the rediscovery of the great Pier-Luigi Zucchini.
Although widely acclaimed in his own time, Zucchini fell into disrepute during the late seventeenth-century reaction against green vegetables, and remained virtually unknown throughout the late Baroque, or Pre-Cambrian period. Fortunately for music-lovers of our time, however, he was rediscovered lurking in the RALPH computer center several months ago.Zucchini had a large green head and spikey fingers, which earned him the sobriquet of "The Green Priest" in contemporary literature. Valdéz, for example, in his massive monograph Seventeenth Century Venice and the Pickle Barrel, refers to Zucchini as "a head above all others in the field --- and far tastier. Fry with butter, olive oil, and a little chives."
Pederast the Elder however, much respected for his tome on the Late Renaissance, refers to Zucchini as "a little withered number, with roots too deep in the mucky-muck of Venetian Court life for comfort." Be that as it may, Zucchini quickly established himself as the leading exponent of the al diente style, and his compositions were performed everywhere with relish on the side.
After leaving Venice for the court of Abalone, the Green Priest disappeared from view for several years, leading his biographers to suspect hanky-panky or worse. We next encounter him leading a string band (or possibly a string bean --- contemporary accounts differ) at the Duchy of Antipasto. About this time, Zucchini began experimenting with the large scale works which were to earn him his subsequent obscurity.
His "Pastrami SonatŠ," a series of seventeen thousand Cantatas for each feast day, were published between 1647 and the morning after. Many of these works have been lost, by sheer good fortune, but the fragments that remain mark Zucchini as a consummate master of the picayune. Scored for large forces (double choir, fat soloists, and military band obligato) each work lasts no more than eleven seconds but seems much longer. The "SonatŠ" received several public performances, as a result of which Zucchini was deported.
In his later years, Zucchini turned his attention to the more intimate forms of the chamber ensemble. A striking series of quartets for transverse flute, viola da gamba, oregano and chili pepper flowed from his pen, sometimes dripping off the desk and staining his cuffs. During this period, Zucchini also wrote his monumental treatise on edible counterpoint, which eventually came out in paper but was snubbed by The New York Review of Books.
Furious at this affront, Zucchini called the editor a "saltimbocca" to his face and left in a Huff. Reaching Bologna the next day, he traded his Huff in on a Pierce-Arrow and continued his pilgrimage onto the Holy Roman Empire, into the pages of history, and out of our lives. There he rests fitfully to this day.--- L. W. Milam