Harold Jacob



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Harold Jacob, MUS 303: Music History 2
Faculty Mentor: Professor Carolyn Guzski, Music

Robert W. Smith's (1958) First Symphony, The Divine Comedy (1995), was based on Dante Alighieri's trecento literary masterpiece. First published in 1472, La divina commedia is now a staple of Italian Renaissance literature still influential among artists and writers today. Dante has previously served as an artistic catalyst for many creative individuals. Adaptations of the Divine Comedy have appeared in previous symphonies, film, and most recently in a videogame and an animated epic. Robert W. Smith is one of the very few musicians who has composed a symphony based on all constituent sections of the Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, The Ascension, and Paradiso. Each musical movement has distinct characteristics that aurally depict what Dante imagined witnessing and experiencing as he traversed through the Afterlife. La divina commedia was for Dante more than just theology--it is the author's own story in which he is the protagonist, with themes that relate to his personal life and relationship to the Roman Catholic Church and politics of his native Florence. My project seeks to explain how Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy has found continued relevance in Smith's Symphony, through the composer's musical interpretation of a great literary work.

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Arts and Humanities

Orchestrated by Dante
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