Composer: Giulio Briccialdi
Instrument: Ensemble: Fl., Vln., Vla., Vlc.
Duration: 8 min.
“La Sirena” Capriccio Fantastico, published here for the first time, represents a rare example of instrumental virtuosity combined with the “bel canto” of Italian opera. “La Sirena” and the 14 quartets for flute and strings composed by Saverio Mercadante (1795-1870) represent the most important flute chamber music of that period. “La Sirena” was probably composed between 1841 and 1844, during the period when “the Prince of Flautists” was acclaimed and requested in all of Europe.
Fl., Vln. (2), Vla., Vlc.
About the composer +
Giulio Briccialdi was born in Terni (Umbria) on 2 March 1818. From early youth he displayed a strong vocation for music and began studying the flute with his father.
He applied himself with great enthusiasm and made such progress that by the age of fifteen he was already a member of the Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome and teacher of the Prince of Syracuse, brother to the King of Naples. After a period as first flute in the theatre orchestra at La Scala (where he met Verdi), he toured Europe and America, where he was acclaimed as a virtuoso and proclaimed the “Paganini of the flute”. In spite of the pressures of concert playing, he always found the time to devote himself to composition, and his works for the flute, chamber ensembles and even the opera were published and well received. After accepting the post of flute professor at the Conservatorio in Florence in 1870 (a chair he held until his death in 1881), he dedicated himself to didactic works and a new mechanism for the instrument. A number of his pupils made a name for themselves throughout Europe. Sketching out an adequate biographical survey on the basis of the bare facts and dates is by no means an easy task if one’s intention is to recreate a complex Romantic personality. Such a portrait must inevitably be made up of innumerable details, in which events of importance merge with the merely commonplace, with a constant alternation of the sublime and the practical, the inspired and the mannered. And Briccialdi, an artist of considerable intensity, is no exception. He surprises us in both his moments of adversity and those of glory. For example, in his writings he modestly “forgets” his triumphant tour of Europe and aspires to a tranquil and sedate life: a somewhat unexpected reaction from one who was a fervent Italian nationalist and had once devolved the entire takings of a series of concerts to the cause of the Risorgimento.
For most musicians and musicologists, Giulio Briccialdi is mainly remembered for his outstanding career as a performer and prolific writer of studies for the flute. What is considerably less familiar is his very respectable standing as composer and – to a even lesser extent – his reputation as creator of a new type of flute: for years his model stood as a worthy competitor of that of Theobald Boehm.
Contemporaries acclaimed him as the “finest living flute-player” in an age in which virtuosity on that instrument had reached unprecedented standards. He was a great artist and a fine representative of the Romantic age.
Front Cover: Giulio Briccialdi
Cover graphics and layout: Ronni Kot Wenzell
Editor: Gian-Luca Petrucci
Engraving: Paola Pisa
Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
Copyright © Edition SVITZER