Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Wallace McKenzie


The American career of Giuseppe Ferrata (1865-1928) was a part of the legacy of European emigre musicians who came to the United States in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and who made a lasting impact on the musical life of their communities. Born in Gradoli, Italy, Ferrata studied piano with Giovanni Sgambati and Franz Liszt at the Royal Academy of St. Cecilia in Rome. He attained some renown as both a pianist and a composer in his native Italy before immigrating to the United States in 1892. He subsequently held teaching posts at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland (1892-1893), at Greenville Female College in Greenville, South Carolina (1894-1900), at Brenau College and Conservatory in Gainesville, Georgia (1900-1902), and at Beaver College and Musical Institute in Beaver, Pennsylvania (1902-1908). In 1909, he became the first Professor of Piano and Composition at Newcomb College (now part of Tulane University) in New Orleans, where he remained until his death in 1928. Ferrata established his reputation in the United States by winning composition prizes in the Music Teachers' National Association Competition (1897), the Sonzogno Opera Competition of Milan (1903), the Art Society of Pittsburgh Competition (1908), and the Art Publication Society of St. Louis Competition (1913). His compositions were published by G. Ricordi, J. Fischer & Bro., G. Schirmer, and Hinds, Noble, & Eldredge. His publications include numerous piano works in both the virtuoso and the salon traditions, over thirty songs, two masses, one string quartet, and three suites for organ. This dissertation presents a historical account of Ferrata's activities and documents his position in the cultural life of the various communities where he taught. Sources include local newspapers, university archives, family scrapbooks, correspondence, and personal interviews with his son, Ernesto Ferrata of Metairie, Louisiana. Moreover, this dissertation offers an overview of Ferrata's compositional style with a brief examination of his major publications, such as the Messe solenelle and the String Quartet in G Major. A catalogue of Ferrata's published and unpublished compositions concludes this project.