15 May 2019

15 May

Claudio Monteverdi – composer

Baroque musician who gave us the first real opera

The composer and musician Claudio Monteverdi was baptised on this day in 1567 in Cremona in Lombardy.  Children were baptised soon after their birth in the 16th century so it is possible Monteverdi was born on 15 May or just before.  He was to become the most important developer of a new genre, the opera, and bring a more modern touch to church music.  Monteverdi studied under the maestro di cappella at the cathedral in Cremona and published several books of religious and secular music while still in his teens.  He managed to secure a position as a viola player at Vincenzo Gonzaga’s court in Mantua where he came into contact with some of the top musicians of the time. He went on to become master of music there in 1601.  It was his first opera, L’Orfeo, written for the Gonzaga court, that really established him as a composer.  Read more…


Anna Maria Alberghetti - singer and actress

Child prodigy who rejected Hollywood to become Broadway star

The actress and operatic singer Anna Maria Alberghetti was born on this day in 1936 in the Adriatic resort of Pesaro.  She moved with her family to the United States in her teens and became a Broadway star, winning a Tony Award in 1962 as best actress in a musical for her performance in Bob Merrill’s Carnival, directed by Gower Champion.  Alberghetti was a child prodigy with music in her blood. Her father was an accomplished musician, an opera singer and concert master of the Rome Opera Company, who also played the cello. Her mother was a pianist.  They influenced the direction in which her talent developed and by the age of six she was singing with symphony orchestras with her father as her vocal instructor.  After success touring Europe, Anna Maria was invited to perform in the United States and made her debut at Carnegie Hall in New York at the age of 14. Given the state of Italy after the Second World War, the idea of settling permanently in America became too attractive for the family to resist.  Read more…


Pippo Barzizza - band leader

Musician was an Italian pioneer of jazz and swing 

The musician and bandleader Giuseppe ‘Pippo’ Barzizza, who helped popularise jazz and swing music in Italy during a long and successful career, was born on this day in 1902 in Genoa.  Barzizza was active in music for eight decades but was probably at the peak of his popularity in the 1930s and 40s, when he led the Blue Star and Cetra orchestras.  He continued to be a major figure in popular music until the 1960s and thereafter regularly came out of retirement to show that his talents had not waned.  He died at his home in Sanremo in 1994, just a few weeks before his 93rd birthday.  As well as arranging the music of others, Barzizza wrote more than 200 songs of his own in his lifetime, and helped advance the careers of such singers as Alberto Rabagliati, Otello Boccaccini, Norma Bruni, Maria Jottini and Silvana Fioresi among others.  Read more…


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