Luigi Ferdinando Casamorata

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Born: 1807

Died: 1881

Biography Luigi Ferdinando Casamorata was born in Würzburg in Franconia May 16, 1807. His father, Luigi Giacomo, had moved there in the train of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinand III, exiled by Napoleon. With the Grand Duke as patron, at an early age, having shown talent for music, Casamorata became a pupil of F. J. Frölich, head of the Faculty of Music of the University of Würzburg. In 1814, when the grand-ducal court returned to Florence, Casamorata settled back into the city, and became a pupil of L. Pelleschi. When he died, he continued his studies as an autodidact.

In 1825 he won the Accademia di Belle Arti triennial composition competition; in the same period he attended the University of Siena, where in 1828 he graduated in law. On 23 September of the same year he was elected an honorary academician of the Accademia di Belle Arti, Devoting himself to composition and musicology, he became editor of the Gazzetta musicale di Firenze and, after composing songs for piano and ballets, on Jan. 30. 1838 was premiered at the teatro dei Ravvivati di Pisa his opera Iginia d'Asti, composed to a libretto by U. Marini. The work was well received by the public, but the following spring, when it was staged at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna, it was unsuccessful. Appointed maestro di cappella of the Accademia di Belle Arti on Sept. 2,. 1841, he continued to cultivate various cultural interests and published in 1842 in Florence, the first Italian translation of the second French edition of Logica giudiziaria o Trattato degli argomenti legali by Ortensio di Saint-Albin.

In 1848 he was appointed lieutenant of the Civic Guard and in 1849 was promoted to major. At that time he temporarily suspended his studies in musicology, writing articles on politics and economics for La Patria, Il Nazionale, and Il Costituzionale. In 1849, not approving of the political tendencies of the restored Grand-ducal government, he decided to retire from public life and became a member of the board of directors of theLivorno railroad, with the post of managing director and legal cashier. In 1859 he was elected city councilor in Florence and in the same year he was appointed to reorganize the music school, of which, with A. Basevi and A. Biagi, he wrote the first organic statute. In 1862 he founded the l'Istituto musicale di Firenze (now Conservatorio L. Cherubini), of which he was president. He again devoted himself to composition and musicology, continued to chair the Music Institute until his death in Florence on Sept. 24. 1881.

Casamorata cultivated many cultural interests. Although he is now remembered only for his musicological works, he devoted much time to composition, writing, besides the aforementioned, two other theatrical works, Il Contrabbandiere and La Marchesa fortunata (lost), the cantata Beatrice and ballets. He also composed 14 masses, two of which, the second and the third, for the dead, for 4 voices with orchestra, 3 voices with organ, 3 offertories, 6 graduals, 2 Benedictus, two psalms, motets. His works for orchestra include four symphonies, a funeral march, two overtures, a concertino for clarinet and one for flute, an Introduction, adagio and rondo for oboe, a Fantasy for oboe and strings. He also composed three trios, 3 quartets, a quartet for winds with piano, a quartettino for two clarinets and two bassoons, a wind quintet, a divertimento for harp, educational pieces, and pieces of vocal music.

Of particular interest are several publications related to his work as a musicologist. As contributor to the Gazzetta musicale di Milano from 1842, the year in which the magazine was founded, he published a series of essays of criticism and history of music, including a major bio-bibliographical study of Tuscan musicians (VI [1847], p. 242 ff., 251, 285 s., 197 ff., 306 ff., 356, 372 s., 378 s.). In the course of this activity he evoked the figure of Padre Mauro of the Servants of Mary, theorist of the sixteenth century., making known the treatise Utriusque Musices Epitome, important to know the rules of notation equired for transcription of ancient manuscripts (ibid., VII [1848], p. 5, 13). He also claimed to have discovered in the course of his research the Laurenziano codex, a large collection of compositions of the Italian Ars Nova, and was able to gather the information needed to evaluate many Italian composers of the past, including Francesco Nigetti, inventor of the 5-manual, called omnisono or omnicordo. He was also first in Italy to write a historical essay on semiography (lost), and an essay on the historical development of theatrical costume (in Gazz. Mus. Di firenze, 5, 18 Febr., and March 4, 1880), in which he made interesting observations on unbelievable anachronisms found in enactments of ancient musical works.

Casamorata also tried to use his knowledge of the theater, to implement an interesting initiative, a theater school, gymnasium or theater, and the proposal of a permanent orchestra, which could offer the public shows and concerts even during the interval between one season opera and the other (Official mus. Milan, XXIX [1871], p. 221-24, 229 ff., 237 s.). His teaching experience as music director of the Institute of Florence also led him to write a manual of harmony and a course in choral singing, the first published in Florence in 1876, the second unpublished (Lit. Conservatory L. Cherubini, Florence) and set the musical education of young people according to new and more rational criteria. Also an expert of ancient instruments, he published in Florence in 1861 a report on Musical Instruments of the Italian Exposition of 1861, wrote an essay on the construction of the organ, suggesting the use of electricity and iron and, in 1873, published in Florence Origine, storia e ordinamento del Reale Istituto musicale fiorentino. In numerous essays, published in periodicals of the time, he demonstrated broad knowledge of the works of Ch Burney, J. N. Forkel, F.-J. Fétis, R. G. Kieswetter, Ch E. Coussemaker, demonstrating the existence of a strong scientific background. (From Clara Gabanizza, Dizionario Biografico delgi Italiani (1978) trans. Google/ed. Quick)

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