The electrical effect of her singing was very well shown at one of these concerts. She introduced a song, “Delia Superba Roma,” declamatory in its nature, written for her by Marquis Sampieri. The younger Linley, brother-in-law of Sheridan, who was playing in the orchestra, was so moved that he forgot his own part, and on receiving a severe whispered rebuke from the singer fainted away in his place. Mme. Catalani returned again on finishing her English engagement to Russia, where she realized fifteen thousand guineas in four months. Concert-rooms were too small to hold her audiences, and she was obliged to use the great hall of the Public Exchange, which would hold more than four thousand people. At her last concert the Emperor and Empress loaded her with costly gifts, among them being a girdle of magnificent diamonds.
The career of John Braham must always be of interest to those who love the traditions of English music. The associate and contemporary of a host of distinguished singers, and himself not least, his connection with the musical life of Cata-lani would seem to make some brief sketch of the greatest of English tenor-singers singularly fitting in this place. He was born in London in 1773, of Jewish parentage, his real name being Abrams, and was so wretchedly poor that he sold pencils on the street to get a scanty living. Leoni, an Italian teacher of repute, discovered by accident that he had a fine voice, and took the friendless lad under his tutelage. He appeared at the age of thirteen at the Covent Garden Theatre, the song “The Soldier tired of War’s Alarms” being the first he sang in public. One of the papers spoke of him as a youthful prodigy, saying, “He promises fair to attain every perfection, possessing every requisite necessary to form a good singer.” Braham at one time lost his voice utterly, and his prospect seemed a gloomy one, as his master Leoni also died about the same time. He now found a generous patron in Abraham Goldsmith, however, and became a professor of the piano, for which instrument he developed remarkable talent.
An Italian master named Rauzzini seems to have been of great service to Braham when he was about twenty years of age, and under him he fitted himself for the Italian stage, and secured an opening under Storace, father of the brilliant Nancy Storace, at Drury Lane. His success was so marked that the following season found him reengaged and his professional life well opened to him. Braham’s ambition, however, would not permit him to rest on his laurels, or rest contented with the artistic fitness already acquired. He determined to find in Italy that finishing culture which then as now made that country the Mecca of artists anxious to perfect their education. He visited Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, and Rome, studying under the most famous masters. Not content with his training in executive music, Braham studied composition and counterpoint under Isola, and laid the foundation for the knowledge which afterward gave him a place among notable English composers as well as singers.