Gian Francesco Malipiero


Music, if properly constructed, can turn into a mathematical set of apparently indecipherable coded sequences or, if we go even deeper, it becomes a logical and finite succession of Ancient Symbols.

Malipiero and the Rosicrucian Order
by Riccardo Bortolaso

produced for

Chapter extracted from the text Le Croci di Malipiero, document available for download at this link:

The Concerto for Cello and Orchestra dated 28 October 1937 is a Masonic work.

The rhetorical-musical figure of the Cross has very ancient origins and was used by composers such as Bach, Mozart and also Malipiero, to give their music a different meaning: writing Music does not only mean composing following the inspiration of the moment (as the Romantics used to say), but it is a much more complex action that follows the ancient rules of Christian Rosenkreutz’s alchemic hermeticism.
Music, if properly constructed, can turn into a mathematical set of apparently indecipherable coded sequences or, if we go even deeper, it becomes a logical and finite succession of Ancient Symbols.

The thesis The Crosses of Malipiero aims to explain and analyse the coded messages that Malipiero wanted to pass on to us and to place him in the Olympus of the great Composers of the History of Music branded with the symbol of the Rose Cross.

The Concerto for Cello and Orchestra is to all intents and purposes one of the musical works of a hermetic-Masonic nature.

There is no official document describing Malipiero as an active member of the Italian Freemasonry, but there are numerous sources attesting to his friendship with numerous prominent figures in the musical milieu of 20th century Europe: there are anecdotes from citizens of Venice in the lagoon that speak of the composer strolling through the calle with his friend Igor Stravinsky towards the Biennale buildings; there are numerous photos and letters documenting his deep ties with Alfredo Casella and Manuel De Falla. It is possible to surmise that his (turbulent) friendship with Ildebrando Pizzetti brought him closer to the Italian Masonic world but that, for some reason, he immediately wanted to break away: this would explain the constant infighting with his fellow composers, first and foremost Pizzetti.

Although there are no literary documents attesting to whether or not he belonged to any Masonic lodge, what has emerged from the analysis of one of the most fascinating musical documents of the first half of the 20th century is significant and, dare I say it, shocking: in this concerto we find numerous references to the Rosicrucian Order, to speculative Freemasonry, to Johann Sebastian Bach and to the set of numbers and symbols that stud the firmament of the mystical and hermetic universe. There are also very clear references to the Jewish religion, the Old Testament, Alchemy and the Order of the Templars; Malipiero places the numerical messages of his work in a well-defined historical framework, reporting many dates of decisive events in the past and present history of the European continent.

Many people reading these statements might think that these are mere speculations, or even inferences, but it is evident that the numbers found can in no way be considered the fruit of a random compositional practice: every bar, phrase, musical period, micro-section and macro-section are the fruit of profound reasoning and are closely linked to the numerological universe. Malipiero follows in the footsteps of the great Bach and the eclectic Mozart: he fully masters the language of music, knows the Kabbalah, hermetic symbolism, the mystical power of Elemental Alchemy, the personalities and historical dates that have made European History; the documents, political, philosophical and religious manifestos of the Rosicrucian Order; he knows the Holy Scriptures and the True Meaning of Free Masonry in the Temple of Solomon. It is important not to forget the connection with two works posthumous to the Cello Concerto: Malipiero at bar 53 of the first movement writes what will become to all intents and purposes the Theme of Dimitri Shostakovich’s first cello concerto; similarly he anticipates Britten’s Cantata, who six years later will write. Rejoice the Lamb (lamb means lamb of God) containing and his dedication to his Russian friend in the climax of the opera ‘silly fellow’. In 1936 Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler signed the Rome-Berlin Axis, while Malipiero opened a hermetic-musical channel between Italy, the UK and Russia: in a world tormented by wars and growing social and cultural hardships, Music becomes the only means of communication capable of breaking down all barriers and opening up channels for the transmission of True Knowledge in order to bring the musician and, more generally, Man back onto the old high road, following in the footsteps of the great intellectuals, philosophers, composers and enlightened artists of the Past and recovering his nature, his True Self. In order to bring about this change, it is necessary to formulate musical messages and thoughts that are comprehensible to a small circle of the chosen ones. On the contrary, if this were not the case, there would be total chaos as the least trained minds, which are no longer capable of deep reasoning, would enter such an abyss that they would not be able to return to the surface.

The words of the musical language are the notes: they are concepts, that is, discretisations of absolute and infinite sound, and as such can have several levels of meaning with as many keys of interpretation. We realise this immediately when we listen to, read, study and analyse a work by Bach, we perceive it in the golden perfection of Mozart, we grasp it in the music of Malipiero who, aware of the styles and compositional forms of the past, creates a personal, unique and inimitable style in which melodic harmonic and rhythmic relations merge with numbers, Symbology and the Philosophy of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood and give life to a complete Musical Work, an anthology of the author’s states of mind who vents all his rages, perplexities, doubts and hopes in the line of the Cello Solo. It is the musical instrument that most closely resembles the human voice, thanks to the breadth of its register, which ranges from low to high-pitched: the resolute and at times aseptic tone of the first movement comes to vibrate the deepest chords of the human soul when, in the second movement, the immensity of Italian lyricism is heard in a loud voice; these gentle moments of sharing and the first references to the Rosicrucian musical tradition are taken up and modified in the third movement, where the cello is the master. Each measure is dense with symbols, numbers, and references to the Jewish and Christian Kabbalah; the thirty-four crosses open a magical portal to ancient legends of ancient worlds of human history, time is lost in the cadences written for the soloist who is left alone against all, aware of his strength but also of the fragility and transience of his human nature. Although he is the messenger and bearer of an Infinite Truth, his body is not immune to the passage of time, as was the supreme Christian Rosenkreutz before him, who is none other than the reincarnation of the Messiah himself, the legitimate descendant of the oldest and holiest lineage of the Gods who inhabited the Earth and who gave the Masons the knowledge and skills to build Solomon’s Temple.

With the thesis The Crosses of Malipiero, I wish to highlight the importance of Gian Francesco Malipiero, one of Europe’s, but above all Italy’s, greatest composers: the time has come to brush away the dust from his works and begin his rediscovery, just as he did with V. Malipiero. as he did in turn with Vivaldi, Monteverdi and many others; Malipiero is not just a 20th century composer who remained in the shadows due to his vicissitudes with the fascist regime, he is like Bach and Mozart in that his works are imbued with the gold of the alchemists, the magic of numbers and the mysticism of the Rosicrucianism, which in turn follows in the footsteps of the ancient Master Templars and the Sacred Free Masonry.

Freemasonry is not a word of negative propaganda, seventeen and thirteen are not unlucky numbers but sacred numbers that reflect the cultural roots not only of Italy, let alone Europe, but of Man as an indispensable element of Nature; lodges and brotherhoods are not a den of ruthless bankers.

Gian Francesco Malipiero was most probably a member of the Rosicrucian Order, and in the Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, completed on 28 October 1937 in Asolo, he wanted to convey his knowledge, thoughts, fears and reflections on the fascist regime, the influence it had within the musical milieu and his experience in the hermetic disciplines, paying homage to the brothers J.S. Bach and W.A. Mozart together with Christian Rosenkreutz, the alter ego of Jesus. Nazarene.


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