Italian Maggot

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Italian Maggot

Dick’s Maggot / An Italian Rant

Just what a musical “maggot” might be is the subject of some disagreement. One suggestion is that the term equates to the German ohrwurm (earwig) – a melody that you can’t get out of your head. My preference is for the idea that it denotes something which is not “serious” but rather whimsical or fanciful – the product of maggots on the brain. Both ‘Dick’s Maggot’ and ‘An Italian Rant’ can be found in John Playford’s classic collection, ‘The Dancing Master’, first published in 1651 but reprinted through many editions well into the eighteenth century. An Italian Rant starts life as a sixteenth century song, ‘La Mantovana’, composed by Italian tenor Giuseppe Cenci. This renaissance hit has adapted and endured, appearing for example as the main theme in Bedřich Smetna’s ‘Vltava’ from ‘Ma Vlast’ and more recently as the Israeli national anthem, ‘Hatikvah’.

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