Showing posts with label Castelfranco Veneto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Castelfranco Veneto. Show all posts

15 April 2018

Jacopo Riccati – mathematician

Venetian nobleman who was fascinated by Maths

Jacopo Francesco Riccati turned down several important posts to remain with his family
Jacopo Francesco Riccati turned down several
important posts to remain with his family

Respected mathematician, Jacopo Francesco Riccati, who had an equation named after him, died on this day in 1754 in Treviso.

He had devoted his life to the study of mathematical analysis, turning down many prestigious academic posts offered to him. He is chiefly remembered for the Riccati differential equation, which he spent many years studying.

Riccati was born in 1676 in Venice. His father, Conte Montino Riccati, was from a noble family of land owners and his mother was from the powerful Colonna family. His father died when Riccati was only ten years old, leaving him a large estate at Castelfranco Veneto.

Riccati was educated first at the Jesuit school for the nobility in Brescia and in 1693 went to the University of Padua to study law.

After receiving a doctorate in law in 1696 be began to study mathematical analysis.

He was invited to Russia by Peter the Great to be president of the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences, also to Vienna to be an imperial councillor, and he was offered a professorship at the University of Padua, but he declined them all, preferring to remain on his estate with his family studying on his own.

Riccati's works were published in four volumes
Riccati's works were published in four volumes
Mathematician Maria Gaetani Agnesi included some of his work on multinomials in the book on integral calculus within her work, Analytical Institutions.

Riccati married Elisabetta dei Conti d’Onigo and they had 18 children. Nine died during infancy, but nine survived. The two most famous were Vincenzo Riccati, who made important contributions to mathematical physics and Giordano Riccati, who carried out scientific experiments.

After his wife died in 1749, Riccati moved to live at his house in Treviso. He died there in 1754 and was buried in Treviso’s Duomo, where the Riccati family had their own chapel.

Riccati’s Opere - Works - were published in four volumes in 1765, edited by his son, Giordano.

The impressive walls of Castelfranco Veneto
The impressive walls of Castelfranco Veneto
Travel tip:

Castelfranco Veneto, where Riccati had his estate, is an ancient walled town in the Veneto region of Italy. It is also famous for being the birthplace of the Renaissance artist, Giorgione. The Duomo, which is inside the walls, contains one of his finest works, Madonna with St Francis and Liberalis, which was painted in 1504.

Treviso is famed for its picturesque canals
Treviso is famed for its picturesque canals
Travel tip:

Treviso, where Riccati lived towards the end of his life, is an historic, walled city in the Veneto region, with picturesque canals and water wheels. It is the headquarters of the clothing firm, Benetton, and is famous for producing Prosecco wine and the vegetable, radicchio.

More reading:

Tullio Levi-Civita, the mathematician who influenced Einstein

How Vincenzo Viviani was a friend of Galileo and studied the surface of the moon

Francesca Porcellato - inspiring paralympian from Castelfranco Veneto

Also on this day:

1446: The death of architect Filippo Brunelleschi

1452: The birth of the great painter and inventor Leonardo da Vinci


5 September 2017

Francesca Porcellato - Paralympian

Life of sporting excellence born of horrific accident

Francesca Porcellato has competed at seven summer and three winter Paralympic Games
Francesca Porcellato has competed at seven
summer and three winter Paralympic Games 
Francesca Porcellato, one of Italy’s most enduring Paralympians, was born on this day in 1970 in Castelfranco Veneto.

She has competed in seven summer Paralympics as an athlete and cyclist and three winter Paralympics in cross-country skiing, winning a total of 14 medals, including three golds.

At the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, Canada, she was flag-bearer for the Italian team.

She is also a prolific wheelchair marathon competitor, sharing with America’s Tatyana McFadden the distinction of having won the London Marathon wheelchair event four times.

Even as she reaches the age of 47, Francesca is still at the top of her sport. Only last weekend in Pietermaritzburg in South Africa, she won gold in the H3 event at the Paracycling road world championships.

The H3 category – for paraplegic, tetraplegic or amputees unable to ride a standard bicycle – involves competitors riding in a lying position, using their arms to turn the wheels.

Francesca in her racing wheelchair
Francesca in her racing wheelchair
Francesca was the defending champion in the H3 after winning gold at the 2015 championships in Nottwil in Switzerland, where she also took gold in the time trial.

Francesca has been disabled since the age of just 18 months, having been run over by a truck in the driveway of her house.

She suffered multiple broken bones – in her words ‘everything except my head and arms’ – but miraculously no internal injuries. Yet the damage to her spinal cord meant she would never walk again.

Rehabilitation was a long process. It took many years for her to walk with a frame and she was six years old before she was given a wheelchair.  Once she was able to propel herself with her arms, however, she soon became keen to go faster and dreamed of becoming an athlete.

Although competition for disabled athletes was not nearly as well established as it is today when Francesca developed her ambition to race, there had been organised events since 1948 and the Paralympics, which had been originally conceived for war veterans, was officially launched in Rome in 1960.

They have been staged every four years since 1960, and since 1988 in Seoul, South Korea have been held in conjunction with the Olympic Games themselves, using the same facilities and following on immediately afterwards.

Francesca has excelled on skis too
Francesca has excelled on skis too
It was in Seoul that Francesca, just turned 18, made her Paralympic debut as a wheelchair athlete.

Her success was immediate, with gold medals in both the individual 100m and 4 x 100m relay.  Noting her red hair, The Italian media nicknamed her La Rossa Volantethe Flying Redhead.

Winning three silver medals for good measure, in the 200m, 4 x 200m and 4 x 400m, she was among the medals again in Barcelona again four years later, taking bronze in the 400m on her 22nd birthday.

She competed in the summer Paralympics until 2008, also picking up medals in 2000 in Sydney and 2004 in Athens.

At the same time, she was developing as a marathon wheelchair runner, in which she also enjoyed spectacular success, winning in London four times in a row from 2003 to 2006 and also taking the top prize in New York, Boston and Paris.

She competed in the winter Games for the first time in 2006, when it was hosted in Turin, as a cross-country skier.

Her big moment in the winter games came in 2010 in Vancouver, when she won the 1km sprint, a victory made even more special for falling on March 21 – the anniversary of her accident – which she regards as her second ‘birthday’.

Francesca says that she looks upon the date as a special day now because “it was the moment I became stronger – strong enough to achieve a beautiful life and realise my dreams.”

She is married to her coach, Dino Farinazzo, and lives now in Valeggio sul Mincio, a town in the province of Verona not far from Lake Garda.

The western gate of Castelfranco Veneto
The western gate of Castelfranco Veneto
Travel tip:

Castelfranco Veneto, a small town midway between Treviso and Vicenza in the Veneto region, is notable for its fortified old city, which lies at the centre of the town surrounded by high walls and a moat. Inside are a number of streets and the old city’s Duomo, which contains an altar piece by the town’s most famous son, the High Renaissance artist Giorgione, thought to have been painted between 1503 and 1504. Next to the Duomo is the Casa Giorgione, thought to have been the artist’s home, which is now a museum.

Valeggio's trademark dish tortellini in brodo
Valeggio's trademark dish tortellini in brodo
Travel tip:

Valeggio sul Mincio, situated on the Mincio river about 10km (6 miles) from Lake Garda, is an attractive town in the western part of the Veneto towards the border with Lombardy. Interesting sights included the 650-metre long Visconti Bridge, which is actually a fortified dam built in 1393, the Castello Scagliero and the Villa Sigurtà, which is surrounded by a vast area of parklands.  Veleggio is also renowned as the town in which the navel-shaped stuffed pasta tortellini was invented, although Castelfranco Veneto makes a similar claim.

25 July 2017

Agostino Steffani – composer

Baroque musician and cleric who features in modern literature

Agostino Steffani, depcited in a 1714
portrait by Gerhard Kappers
A priest and diplomat as well as a singer and composer, Agostino Steffani was born on this day in 1654 in Castelfranco Veneto near Venice.

Details of his life and works have recently been brought to the attention of readers of contemporary crime novels because they were used by the American novelist, Donna Leon, as background for her 2012 mystery The Jewels of Paradise.

Steffani was admitted as a chorister at St Mark’s Basilica in Venice while he was still young and in 1667 the beauty of his voice attracted the attention of Count Georg Ignaz von Tattenbach, who took him to Munich.

Ferdinand Maria, Elector of Bavaria, paid for Steffani’s education and granted him a salary, in return for his singing.

In 1673 Steffani was sent to study in Rome, where he composed six motets. The original manuscripts for these are now in a museum in Cambridge.

On his return to Munich Steffani was appointed court organist. He was also ordained a priest and given the title of Abbate of Lepsing. His first opera, Marco Aurelia, was written for the carnival and produced at Munich in 1681.

Part of the score of Duetto da Camera Pria ch'io faccia by
Agostino Steffani, which is in the British Library in London
The only manuscript score of it known to exist is in the Royal Library at Buckingham Palace. He followed this with six more operas written between 1685 and 1688.

Steffani then accepted the post of Kapellmeister at the court of Hanover where he showed great kindness to the young Handel, who was just beginning his career.

He composed an opera called Henrico Leone for the opening of the new opera house, which enhanced his reputation. He composed several more operas for the same theatre and the scores were brought to London by the Elector of Hanover, George Louis, when he became King George I. They are now preserved in Buckingham Palace.

Steffani went on diplomatic missions on behalf of George Louis’s father, Ernest Augustus, when he became Elector of Hanover and this work was recognised by Pope Innocent XI who granted him high honours.

George Louis, later King George I of England
George Louis, later King George I of England
By then a respected cleric, Steffani continued to write operas using the name of his secretary, although one score that has been judged to be his work bears no name.

In 1724 the Academy of Ancient Music in London elected him as honorary president for life and in return he sent them a Stabat Mater and three madrigals, which have been considered to be in advance of the age in which they were written. Steffani also wrote many beautiful cantatas for two voices, the scores for which are now in the British Museum.

The composer visited Italy for the last time in 1727, where he met up with Handel again. Steffani died in 1728 while on diplomatic business in Frankfurt.

In Donna Leon’s novel The Jewels of Paradise, a young musicologist is hired in Venice to find the rightful heirs to fictional treasure that Steffani left in trunks that had not been opened for centuries. Donna Leon’s interest in Baroque opera inspired her to write this story, weaving fact with fiction as she takes details from Steffani’s past and creates a present-day mystery involving two avaricious Venetians who think they are heirs to Steffani’s fortune.

The Cathedral at Castelfranco Veneto
Travel tip:

Castelfranco Veneto, where Steffani was born, is an ancient walled town in the Veneto region of Italy. It is also famous for being the birthplace of Renaissance artist, Giorgione. The Cathedral inside the walls contains one of his finest works, Madonna with St Francis and Liberalis, which was painted in 1504.

The Biblioteca Marciana in Venice
The Biblioteca Marciana in Venice
Travel tip:

In Donna Leon’s novel The Jewels of Paradise, the main character, the musicologist Caterina Pellegrini, carries out a lot of her research into the life of Agostino Steffani at the Biblioteca Marciana, which is an elegant building opposite the Doge’s Palace in the Piazzetta, off St Mark’s Square in Venice.

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: