Great Italian and French Composers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 239 pages of information about Great Italian and French Composers.

Failure of health obliged Paisiello to return to Naples, when he again entered the service of the king.  Attached to the fortunes of the Bonaparte family, his prosperity fell with theirs.  He had been crowned with honors by all the musical societies of the world, but his pensions and emoluments ceased with the fall of Joachim Murat from the Neapolitan throne.  He died June 5,1816, and the court, which neglected him living, gave him a magnificent funeral.

“Paisiello,” says the Chevalier Le Sueur, “was not only a great musician, but possessed a large fund of general information.  He was well versed in the dead languages, acquainted with all branches of literature, and on terms of friendship with the most distinguished persons of the age.  His mind was noble and above all mean passions; he neither knew envy nor the feeling of rivalry....  He composed,” says the same writer, “seventy-eight operas, of which twenty-seven were serious, and fifty-one comic, eight intermezzi, and an immense number of cantatas, oratorios, masses, etc.; seven symphonies for King Joseph of Spain, and many miscellaneous pieces for the court of Russia.”

Paisiello’s style, according to Fetis, was characterized by great simplicity and apparent facility.  His few and unadorned notes, full of grace, were yet deep and varied in their expression.  In his simplicity was the proof of his abundance.  It was not necessary for him to have recourse to musical artifice and complication to conceal poverty of invention.  His accompaniments were similar in character, clear and picturesque, without pretense of elaboration.  The latter not only relieved and sustained the voice, but were full of original effects, novel to his time.  He was the author, too, of important improvements in instrumental composition.  He introduced the viola, clarinet, and bassoon into the orchestra of the Italian opera.  Though, voluminous both in serious and comic opera, it was in the latter that he won his chief laurels.  His “Pazza per Amore” was one of the great Pasta’s favorites, and Catalani added largely to her reputation in the part of La Frascatana.  Several of Paisiello’s comic operas still keep a dramatic place on the German stage, where excellence is not sacrificed to novelty.


A still higher place must be assigned to another disciple and follower of the school perfected by Piccini, Dominic Cimarosa, born in Naples in 1754.  His life down to his latter years was an uninterrupted flow of prosperity.  His mother, an humble washerwomen, could do little for her fatherless child, but an observant priest saw the promise of the lad, and taught him till he was old enough to enter the Conservatory of St. Maria di Loretto.  His early works showed brilliant invention and imagination, and the young Cimarosa, before he left the Conservatory, had made himself a good violinist and singer.  He worked hard, during a musical

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Great Italian and French Composers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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