Benigno Zerafa (1726-1804) and the Neapolitan Galant Style

Benigno Zerafa (1726-1804) and the Neapolitan Galant Style

Frederick Aquilina


Boydell Press



This book is the first-ever study of Malta's major eighteenth-century composer, Benigno Zerafa (1726 - 1804), a specialist in sacred music composition.
This book is the first-ever study of Malta's major eighteenth-century composer, Benigno Zerafa (1726-1804), a specialist in sacred music composition. Zerafa's large-scale and small-scale vocal and choral works, mostly written during his long service as musical director at the Cathedral of Mdina, have been winning increased recognition in recent years. In addition to describing and analysing this extensive corpus, the book gives an account of Zerafa's sometimes eventful career against the wider background of the rich musical and cultural life in Malta, especial attention being paid to its strong links with Italy, and particularly Naples, where Zerafa was a student for six years. It examines in detail the complex relationship of music to Catholic liturgy and investigates the distinctive characteristics of the musical style, intermediate between baroque and classical, in which Zerafa was trained and always composed: one that today is commonly labelled "galant".
Well stocked with music examples, the book makes copious reference to Italian and Maltese composers from Zerafa's time and to modern analytical studies of Italian music from the middle decades of the eighteenth century, thereby offering a useful general commentary on the galant period. Its central aim, however, is to stimulate further interest in, and revival of, Zerafa's music. To this end the book contains a complete work-list with supplementary indexes. Scholars and students of eighteenth-century music, in particular sacred music, the galant style and Italian music, will find it invaluable.

FREDERICK AQUILINA is Senior Lecturer in Music Studies at the University of Malta.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781782046172), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


March 2016
6 black and white, 97 line illustrations
347 pages
24x17 cm
ISBN: 9781783270866
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BISAC MUS006000, MUS048010
Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter   Pin it   Share by Email

Table of Contents

The Life of Benigno Zerafa (1726-1804): A Maltese Composer of Sacred Music
A Concise History of Church Music in Malta: From the Late Fifteenth Century to the Eighteenth Century
Naples during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
Classification of Zerafa's Works, Sources and Commentary
The Works a due cori (SATBx2)
The Works for Five Voices (SSATB)
The Works for Four Voices (SATB)
The Works for Three, Two and Solo Voice
The Works for Voice(s) and Organ/Basso Continuo Only
Appendix A: Index of Works (Chronological, by date)
Appendix B: Index to Titles of Works (Alphabetical)
Appendix C: Index of Works (Vocal Scoring and Instrumentation)


This study by Frederick Aquilina is a nice addition to the relatively scarce bibliography on the rich repertory of sacred music in eighteenth-century Malta . . . [and is] "the product of twenty years of research". . . . [T]he volume is certainly an essential contribution to the rediscovery of the works of the unjustly forgotten figure of Benigno Zerafa NOTES: JOURNAL OF THE MUSIC LIBRARY ASSOCIATION