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Becker publishes book on Italian opera fantasias

Photo of Rachel standing outside holding an oboe. Behind her are residential home and autumn colored trees
Rachel Becker

Rachel Becker, an assistant professor of musicology and oboe, recently published her first book by Routledge, “Valuing Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera Fantasias for Woodwind Instruments: Trash Music.”

A valuable read for musicians, musicologists and music history enthusiasts alike, Becker’s book shines a light on the oft-overlooked genre of opera fantasias – instrumental works that use themes from a single opera as the body of their virtuosic and flamboyant material. Becker’s examination evolved from research that started during her time at the University of Oxford. She concentrates on nineteenth-century compositions created for and by Italian woodwind instrument performers as she analyzes the material from a historical and theoretical perspective.

Routledge states that Becker’s book addresses “important overlapping strands [that] include the concept of virtuosity and its gradual demonization, the strong gendered overtones of individual woodwind instruments and of virtuosity, the distinct Italian context of these fantasias, the presentation and alteration of opera narratives in opera fantasias, and the technical and social development of woodwind instruments.”

Becker’s book is available now in eBook and physical hardback format.