7 April 2023

7 April

NEW - Gino Severini - painter and mosaicist

Tuscan was leading figure in Futurist movement

The painter and mosaicist Gino Severini, who was an important figure in the Italian Futurist movement in the early 20th century and is regarded as  one of the most progressive of all 20th century Italian artists, was born on this day in 1883 in the hilltop town of Cortona in Tuscany.  He divided his time largely between Rome and Paris, where he died in 1966. Although he was a signatory - along with Umberto Boccioni, Carlo CarrĂ , Luigi Russol and Giacomo Balla - of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurist Painters in 1910, his work was not altogether typical of the movement.  Indeed, ultimately he rejected Futurism, moving on to Cubism, having become friends with Cubist painters Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in Paris, before ultimately turning his interest to Neo-Classicism and the Return to Order movement that followed the First World War.  He attracted criticism among his peers by his associations with the Fascist-supporting Novecento Italiano movement, whose work became closely linked with state propaganda. Severini was involved with Benito Mussolini's "Third Rome" project, supplying murals and mosaics for Fascist architectural structures inspired by imperial Rome. Read more…


Domenico Dragonetti - musician

Venetian was best double bass player in Europe

The composer and musician Domenico Dragonetti  - Europe's finest double bass virtuoso - was born on this day in 1763 in Venice.  Apart from the fame his talent brought him, Dragonetti is remembered as the musician who opened the eyes of Ludwig van Beethoven and other composers to the potential of the double bass.  They met in Vienna in 1799 and experts believe it was Dragonetti’s influence that led Beethoven to include passages for double bass in his Fifth Symphony.   From 1794 onwards until his death in 1846 at the age of 83, Dragonetti lived in London but it was in Venice that he established his reputation.  The son of a barber who was also a musician, Domenico Carlo Maria Dragonetti taught himself to play the guitar and the double bass as a child using his father’s instruments.  It was not long before word of his precocious ability spread and he was sent to the Ducal Palace of San Marco for tuition from Michele Berini, who was widely respected as the best double bass player in Venice.  Berini declared after only 11 lessons that there was nothing more he could teach the young Dragonetti.  Read more…


The 1906 Vesuvius eruption

Deadliest incident of the 20th century

One of the most violent eruptions in the history of Mount Vesuvius reached its peak on this day in 1906, killing probably in excess of 200 people. The volcano, most famous for the 79AD eruption that buried the city of Pompeii and may have claimed  between 13,000 to 16,000 victims, had been spewing lava for almost 11 months, treating the residents of nearby Naples to regular fireworks displays.  On 5 April, 1906, an indication that a major eruption was imminent came in a failure in the water supply drawn from wells on the mountain sides, with such water as was still flowing having a strong taste of sulphur. The expulsions of lava became more explosive and an ash cloud began to form in the sky above the crater.  In the preceding days, there had been an earthquake on the island of Ustica some 130km (81 miles) away, which was thought to be connected to the Vesuvius eruption.  On the evening of 7 April came the biggest explosion, as well as three earthquakes felt in the city of Naples, which were said to cause much panic, but no particular damage.  That could not be said of some of the villages at the foot of the mountain, in particular Boscotrecase.  Read more…


Giovanni Battista Rubini - opera singer

Tenor was as famous in his day as Caruso

Giovanni Battista Rubini, born on this day in 1794, was a tenor as famous in his day as Enrico Caruso would be almost a century later, his voice having contributed to the popularity of opera composers Vincenzo Bellini and Gaetano Donizetti.   He was the first 19th-century non-castrati singer to become a major international star after two centuries in which audiences and composers were obsessed with the castrati.  Rubini's exceptionally high voice could match the coloratura of the castrati and he effectively launched the era of the bel canto tenor, which signalled the end of the dominance of the castrati.  Rubini was just 12 when he was taken on as a violinist and chorister at the Riccardi Theatre in Bergamo, not far from his home town of Romano di Lombardia. He was 20 when he made his professional debut in Pietro Generali’s Le lagrime d’una vedova at Pavia in 1814, then sang for 10 years in Naples in the smaller, comic opera houses.  Famed for a voice capable of reaching beyond the range of conventional tenors, particularly in the higher registers, in 1825 he sang the leading roles in Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Otello, and La donna del lago in Paris.  Read more…


Marco Delvecchio - footballer

Striker who became TV dance show star

The former Roma and Italy striker Marco Delvecchio, who launched a new career in television after finishing runner-up in the Italian equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing, was born on this day in 1973 in Milan.  Delvecchio scored 83 goals in exactly 300 appearances for Roma, where he was part of the side that won the Scudetto in 2000-01 and where he became a huge favourite with fans of the giallorossi because of his penchant for scoring against city rivals Lazio.  His record of nine goals in the Rome derby between 2002 and 2009 was the best by any player in the club’s history until that mark was overtaken by the Roma great Francesco Totti, whose career tally against Lazio was 11.  Delvecchio’s talents were somewhat underappreciated at international level. He made 22 appearances for the azzurri and the first of his four goals was in the final of Euro 2000 against France, although he finished on the losing side. Yet after being favoured by Dino Zoff, he was not so popular with Zoff’s successor as head coach, Giovanni Trapattoni, who took him to the 2002 World Cup but did not give him a game, and omitted him from his squad for the 2004 Euros.  Read more…


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