21 August 2023

21 August

NEW - Giuseppe ‘del Gesu’ Guarneri – violin maker

Luthier’s surviving instruments are now worth millions

Bartolomeo Giuseppe ‘del Gesu’ Guarneri, who is regarded as the greatest of the Guarneri family of violin makers, was born on this day in 1698 in Cremona in Lombardy.   He was the son of Giuseppe Giovanni Battista Guarneri and the grandson of Andrea Guarneri, who were both respected violin makers in the city. He learned the craft of violin making in his father’s shop, who in turn had learned from his father, Andrea, who had worked alongside Stradivari in the workshop of Niccol├▓ Amati.  Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri became known as Giuseppe ‘del Gesu’ Guarneri because of the religious symbols on the labels he used on the instruments he produced late in his career.  Although Giuseppe ‘del Gesu’ was younger than the celebrated violin maker Antonio Stradivari, he became his rival because of the respect and reverence accorded to the violins he produced. These instruments have now become the most coveted of all by violinists and collectors.  Giuseppe ‘del Gesu’ diverged from the family tradition and created instruments in his own style, which were said to have a darker, more robust and sonorous tone than the violins produced by Stradivari.  Read more…

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Lino Capolicchio - actor

Acclaimed for role in Vittorio De Sica classic

The actor and director Lino Capolicchio, who starred in Vittorio De Sica’s Oscar-winning film The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, was born on this day in 1943 in Merano, an alpine town in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of northern Italy.  Capolicchio appeared in more than 70 films and TV dramas, and dubbed the voice of Bo Hazzard in the Italian adaptation of the American action-comedy The Dukes of Hazzard.  As a director, he won awards for Pugili, a drama-documentary film set in the world of boxing based on his own storylines, but it is for The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, for which he won a David di Donatello award for best actor, that he is best remembered.  The movie is about a wealthy Jewish family in Ferrara in the 1930s, whose adult children, Micol and Alberto, enjoy blissful summers entertaining friends with tennis and parties in the garden of the family’s sumptuous villa.  Capolicchio’s character, Giorgio, from another middle-class Jewish family, falls in love with Micol but she only toys with his attentions. In any event, everything changes with the outbreak of war as northern Italy’s Jewish population become targets for the Nazis and their Fascist allies.  Read more…

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Giuseppe Meazza - Italy's first superstar

Inter striker who gave his name to the San Siro stadium

Italian football's first superstar, the prolific goalscorer Giuseppe Meazza, died on this day in 1969, two days before what would have been his 69th birthday.  Most biographical accounts of his life say Meazza was staying at his holiday villa in Rapallo, on the coast of Liguria, when he passed away but John Foot, the historian, says he died in Monza, much closer to his home city of Milan.  Meazza, who was equally effective playing as a conventional centre-forward or as a number 10, spent much of his career with Internazionale, the Milan club for whom he scored a staggering 243 league goals in 365 appearances.  In the later stages of his career he left Inter after suffering a serious injury, initially joining arch rivals AC Milan.  A year after his death, the civic authorities in Milan announced that the stadium shared by the two clubs in the San Siro district of the city would be renamed Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in his honour.  Born in the Porta Vittoria area of Milan, not far from the centre, Meazza had a tough upbringing.  His father was killed in the First World War when Giuseppe was only seven.  He was a rather sickly child and was sent to an 'open-air' school.  Read more…

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Emilio Salgari – adventure novelist

Author’s heroes and stories are still part of popular culture

Emilio Salgari, who is considered the father of Italian adventure fiction, was born on this day in 1862 in Verona.  Despite producing a long list of novels that were widely read in Italy, many of which were turned into films, Salgari never earned much money from his work. His life was blighted by depression and he committed suicide in 1911.  But he is still among the 40 most translated Italian authors and his most popular novels have been adapted as comics, animated series and films. Although he was not given the credit at the time, he is now considered the grandfather of the Spaghetti Western.  Salgari was born into a family of modest means and from a young age wanted to go to sea. He studied seamanship at a naval academy in Venice but was considered not good enough academically and never graduated.  He started writing as a reporter on the Verona daily newspaper La Nuova Arena, which published some of his fiction as serials. He developed a reputation for having lived a life of adventure and claimed to have explored the Sudan, met Buffalo Bill in Nebraska and sailed the Seven Seas.   Read more…

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Book of the Day: Paganini's Ghost, by Paul Adam

Paganini's Ghost is the sequel to Paul Adam's bestselling thriller, Sleeper (US title: The Rainaldi Quartet). The book sees the return of Cremona violin maker Gianni Castiglione and his detective friend Antonio Guastafeste. A dazzling young Russian virtuoso performs a sell-out recital on Paganini's violin in the cathedral in Cremona. Then one of the audience, a shady Parisian art dealer, is found dead in his hotel room, a fragment of sheet music belonging to the virtuoso hidden in his wallet. But how did the dead man get hold of it? And why? Gianni and Antonio investigate the murder and find themselves at the centre of a tantalising story of love, deception and greed. Following a trail that leads back to Paganini, his lover Elisa Bonaparte (Napoleon's sister), Catherine the Great of Russia and a long-lost priceless treasure, the two friends must unravel another mystery that has gone unanswered for over a century, one that may hold the answer to the modern-day murder. Filled with remarkable history and musical lore, Paganini's Ghost plays at a breathtaking tempo that will keep you reading until the very last page.

Paul Adam is the author of a nunber of thrillers for adults - including Unholy Trinity, Shadow Chasers and Genesis II - the three Cremona mysteries, Sleeper (aka The Rainaldi Quartet), Paganini's Ghost and The Hardanger Riddle, as well as the Max Cassidy series of thrillers for younger readers. His books have sold widely in both the UK and around the world and have been translated into several foreign languages. 

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(To the best of our knowledge, all entries were factually accurate at the time of writing. In the case of individuals still living at the time of publication, some of the information may need updating.)

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