Sunday, October 25, 2009

Camillo Sivori

Camillo Sivori (Ernesto Camillo Sivori) was an Italian violinist, composer, and teacher born (in Genoa) on October 25, 1815 (Beethoven was 45 years old.) He is remembered for being Paganini’s only pupil (although some say that Catarina Calcagno also studied with Paganini.) It is known that he initially studied with Paganini (for six months) at age six, but then also with Restano, Costa, and Dellepiane (the Director of the Conservatory at Genoa.) These last three musicians are now completely forgotten. Before leaving Genoa, Paganini wrote some sonatas for Sivori to play publicly. His last teacher, however, was Paganini, whose virtuosic style he adopted. Sivori supposedly later said that Paganini was the worst teacher the world had ever seen. From age 12, he began his career as a traveling virtuoso. He first played in Paris in 1827; Germany, Russia, and Italy in 1839; Belgium in 1841; England in 1846, 1851, 1853, and 1864; the U.S. in 1846 and 1847; all of Europe plus Ireland and Scotland in 1853. He also travelled to Mexico and parts of South America (presumably after touring the U.S. in the fall of 1846.) He actually lived in Paris for many years. Like his famous teacher, Sivori was a very generous man. He taught pupils between his concert tours but they are not well known. One of them was Zino Francescatti’s father. Among his many compositions are two violin concertos which are now forgotten although recordings are now available of some of his minor works. Unlike Paganini, he frequently played works by other composers. One piece which he was very fond of playing was Francois Prume's La Melancolie.  Sivori gave the English premiere of Mendelssohn’s violin concerto (the one in e minor) in London on June 6, 1846. It is said that he owned many fine instruments – a Stradivarius, a Vuillaume, a Bergonzi, and an Amati among them. His Vuillaume was a replica of Paganini’s Guarnerius (the famous Cannone.) Sivori died in Genoa on February 18, 1894, at age 78 (Stravinsky was 11 years old.)

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