Saturday, September 12, 2009

Antonio Bazzini

Antonio Bazzini was an Italian violinist, composer and teacher born on March 11, 1818 (Beethoven was 48 years old.) He began violin studies at age 7 with Faustino Camisani, director of the local orchestra. He only studied with him until he was 12 because Camisani then died. After that, he didn’t bother with any other teachers - he taught himself. By age 17, he had been appointed music director of the San Filippo church in Brescia, his native town. It has been said that after a chamber music concert on March 20, 1836, the great Paganini himself advised the young 18-year-old Bazzini to tour as a concert virtuoso. Bazzini took his advice and toured much of Europe on and off until about 1864, finally settling down in Brescia, where he taught and composed. He had already lived in Leipzig, Germany for four years (1841-1845) and in Paris for eleven (1852-1863.) It is thought that along the way, he gave the first private performance of Mendelssohn’s e minor violin concerto. In 1873, he became professor of composition at the Milan Conservatory, where three of his pupils were Catalani, Mascagni, and Puccini. Thanks partly to Bazzini’s advocacy, musicians have been using A-440 as the standard pitch for tuning, first adopted in Italy in 1881. As a composer. he is mostly remembered for the Dance of the Goblins, a tune for violin and piano which every violinist who can play it plays. However, he also wrote chamber music and many oratorios, tone poems, operas, and concertos, among which are several violin concertos which are now completely forgotten. His Turandot opera came 57 years before Puccini’s (in 1924), but he also wrote Francesca Da Rimini (in 1890) 14 years after Tchaikovsky composed his. Bazzini died in Milan on 10 February 1897 (Stravinsky was nine years old.)

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