At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Leonardo De Lorenzo – flautist

Flair for the flute led to international career


Leonardo De Lorenzo played with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Leonardo De Lorenzo played with the
New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Leonardo De Lorenzo, a brilliant flute player who passed on his knowledge of the instrument to others through his books, was born on this day in 1875 in Viggiano in the province of Potenza.

De Lorenzo started playing the flute at the age of eight and then moved to Naples to attend the music conservatory of San Pietro a Majella.

He became an itinerant flautist until he was 16, when he moved to America, where he worked in a hotel. He returned to Italy in 1896 to do his military service in Alessandria and became a member of a military band directed by Giovanni Moranzoni, whose son was to become a famous conductor of the orchestra at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

De Lorenzo then began a career as a flautist and toured Italy, Germany, England and South Africa, joining an orchestra in Cape Town for a while. Eventually he returned to Naples to continue his studies.

When he travelled to America again, he became first flautist of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Gustav Mahler. He was warned never to answer back to Mahler, who had a reputation for being unpleasant. Later, in his writing, he recalled that the only time he dared speak to Mahler was after his name had been misspelled in the programme as ‘de Lorenzo’ with a lower case ‘d’. He politely requested the correction saying: ‘De Lorenzo, please, Maestro.’

Gustav Mahler, who was director of the New York Philharmonic when De Lorenzo was first flautist
Gustav Mahler, who was director of the New York
Philharmonic when De Lorenzo was first flautist
He also went on to play for the New York Symphony Orchestra and for orchestras in Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Rochester.

While playing in Minneapolis, he met Maud Peterson, a pianist who frequently accompanied him, and they were later married.

De Lorenzo became professor for flute at the Eastman School of Music and on his retirement concentrated on composing music for the flute and writing about the instrument.

His compositions, Saltarella and Pizzica-pizzica are a homage to the traditional music of his native town.

In 1951 he published the book, My Complete Story of the Flute, after carrying out extensive research.

On August 29 1955 the Los Angeles Flute Club gave a concert in which they performed his compositions to celebrate his 80th birthday.

De Lorenzo died at his home in Santa Barbara in 1962 at the age of 86.

The International Flute Competition, Leonardo De Lorenzo, is held every two years in his birthplace, Viggiano.

Musicians of Viggiano, as imagined in a book in 1853
Musicians of Viggiano, as imagined in a book in 1853
Travel Tip:

Viggiano, where De Lorenzo was born, is a town in the province of Potenza in the southern Italian region of Basilicata. It is well known for its migrant street musicians and for harp making. Many street musicians from Viggiano have gone on to play in orchestras in Europe, America and Australia. Viggiano is also home to Europe’s biggest oil field.

The Church of San Pietro a Majella in Naples
The Church of San Pietro a Majella in Naples
Travel tip:

San Pietro a Majella, the Naples Music Conservatory, occupies the former monastery adjoining the church of San Pietro a Majella at the western end of Via Tribunali in Naples. Formerly housed in the monastery of San Sebastiano, the Music Conservatory moved to its present location in 1826.



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