4 February 2016

Giacomo Facco – composer

The forgotten talent of the musician from Padua

Giacomo Facco, a Baroque composer, was born near Padua
Giacomo Facco's music was
rediscovered in 1962
Giacomo Facco, a Baroque composer, was born on this day in 1676 in Marsango, a small town just north of Padova (Padua).

Highly regarded during his own lifetime, he was completely forgotten about until 1962 when his work was rediscovered by Uberto Zanolli, a musicologist.

Facco is believed to have worked as a violinist and a conductor and he is known to have been given a job in 1705 by the Viceroy of Sicily as a choirmaster, teacher and violinist in Palermo.

In 1708 he moved with the Viceroy to Messina where he composed The Fight between Mercy and Incredulity. In 1710 he presented a work dedicated to King Philip V of Spain, The Augury of Victories, in Messina Cathedral.

By 1720 it is known Facco was working in the Spanish court because his pay is mentioned in a report dating from that year. He is later named as clavichord master to the Spanish princes.

At the height of his success he was commissioned to compose an opera to celebrate the marriage of one of the princes in 1721.

He then seems to have fallen out of favour and was just employed as a violinist in the orchestra of the Royal Chapel until his death in Madrid in 1753.

The composer had earlier written 12 violin concertos under the title Pensieri Adriarmonici. Bright and buoyant, they are reminiscent of the music composed by his contemporary, Vivaldi. These concertos were discovered in a library in Mexico City by Uberto Zanolli in 1962 along with Facco’s birth certificate.  Since his remarkable discovery, Zanolli has put together a biography of Facco and a list of his known works.

Some of Facco’s solo cantatas, written using his own poetry, were presented at a concert in Mexico City in 1962, conducted by Zanolli.

But it is thought other music Facco wrote while working in Spain may have been destroyed in a fire in Madrid in 1734.

The gate into Castelfranco Veneto at Via Francesco Maria Preti
The gate into Castelfranco Veneto at
Via Francesco Maria Preti
Travel tip:

Facco was born and spent his early years in the hamlet of Marsango in the commune of Campo San Martino about 15 kilometres north of Padua in the beautiful countryside of the Veneto. Marsango lies between the cities of Treviso and Vicenza, with the walled city of Castelfranco Veneto just to the north.

Travel tip:

Messina, where Facco was employed by the Viceroy of Sicily, is in the north east corner of the island and has close ties with Reggio Calabria on the mainland. The cathedral where Facco’s music was presented in 1710 dates back to the 12th century but has had to be rebuilt twice because of suffering earthquake and fire damage.

Also on this day:

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