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ANTONIO BAZZINI - VIOLINIST & COMPOSER
Autographed and inscribed 16 page booklet of speeches delivered on the occasion of the investiture of Antonio Bazzini as Director of the Royal Milan Conservatory, Milan, March 29, 1882. He has inscribed the booklet on the cover to Simone Vincenzo Velluti-Zatti, Duca di San Clemente, Milan, May 1882. The booklet is an extract of the two speeches given at the investiture by a student, Luigi Pedrazzini and Bazzini and published originally in the “Gazzetta Musicale di Milano” anno XXXVII, N. 14 and printed in the Ricordi plant. 5” x 7”, octavo closed.
The cover reads:
Speeches/Delivered/On the occasion of the concert given by the students of the R. Conservatory of music/to celebrate the appointment/of the/Comm. Antonio Bazzini/To Director
The inside of the cover gives the initial publication details. Pedrazzini’s speech begins on page three and continues to page eleven. Bazzini’s speech runs from page twelve through page fourteen. Fifteen is blank and the back page sixteen denotes the printing at the Ricordi plant.
Bazzini (1818-1897) was one of the premiere Italian virtuoso concert violinists touring Europe in the mid 19th Century. His career began after Niccolo Paganini heard him perform in a chamber concert and encouraged his career. Living in Germany at first and then Paris, he was a critics favorite and the public as well. Friendly with Felix Mendelssohn and later Robert Schumann, he gave the first performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto at a private performance at the composer’s home with Mendelssohn at the piano. Tired of the touring life, he moved back to his home towm, Breschia to compose in 1864. In 1873 he was appointed Professor at the Royal Milan Conservatory by Director Alberto Mazzucato. He initially shared the teaching of the composition class with the much younger composer Amilcare Ponchielli in 1881. This teaching partnership worked well, as Ponchielli was steeped in the music of the older masters, while Bazzini encouraged new ideas and was also involved with the administration of the school. As Professor of Composition his pupils included: Giacomo Puccini, Pietro Mascagni and Alfredo Catalani. Bazzini was also a successful composer in his lifetime, with the exception of his operas. His six string quartets, string quintet, cantatas, orchestral overtures (two commissioned in 1877 and 1880 for the Crystal Palace Concerts in London) were popular in their day as well as his colo violin music. His best known work is his 1852 devilishly difficult scherzo, “La Ronde des Lutins” (The Goblin Dance) which remains in the concert violin repertory.
In 1882 he was unanimously voted Director by the Conservatory Academic Council after the retirement of Stefano Roncheti-Monteviti. He served in the position until his death in 1897. Interestingly he was the first Director of the Conservatory with a major name in music in Italy. Luigi Pedrazzini (1854-1884) the student elected to give the address at Bazzini’s investiture stated in his speech, ….Few musicians possess as he does that complex of requisites which are required to worthily fill such a high office. He is not only the pride of this Conservatory, where he established a highly regarded school of composition: but he is also an illustration of art and of Italy, recognized and acclaimed even by foreigners…He feels, loves and admires everything that seems to open up new horizons to art. How many times have we seen her in this room: his eye shines with youthful fire when the breath of new life passes over his head? But no one is more devoted than him, a passionate admirer of our classics: no one feels the beauty and grandeur of ancient works more than him, and he goes away inculcating love and study in his pupils as the gospel of art: he finally it can be called the last of the Italian classics... Pedrazzini was a pupil of Bazzini and later went on to become a composer and critic and died at the age of thirty, two years after delivering this speech.
Bazzini in turn gave the following speech verbatim:
I have no oratory art, nor the habit of speaking in public. To this deficiency is now added the emotion, which prevents me from expressing everything I feel at this moment for such a touching and spontaneous expression of affection.
I thank you with all my heart. The sentence is simple and unadorned: but accept it as the expression of a sincere and profound feeling.
I give heartfelt thanks to the promoters of this nice party: thanks to all the good performers, who with so much warmth and intelligence were able, by themselves, to interpret my poor music very well, and if this seemed overwhelming to the courteous speakers, they will forgive your affection for me, the test on which, unbeknownst to me, their patience.
I know that my strength is insufficient for disengagement, as I understand the high office to which I was called, and I can only rely on my good will, which, however, I assure you will never fail.
But if I have been able, my dear students, to deserve your esteem as a teacher, this encourages me and gives me good wishes in preparing myself for the arduous task now entrusted to me by the benevolence of the honorable Academic Council and by the trust of the Government, that is to say hold up your studies in this renowned, conservatory, which boasts glorious traditions.
The task is serious, and for me today almost unfortunate. In fact, if I now assume the difficult functions of actual director, that is because my excellent predecessor and friend professor cav. Ronchetti-Monteviti, who had dedicated himself entirely to the good of the Institute, had to abandon them due to poor health. And this is a deep regret for all of us, who appreciated his chosen gifts of mind to heart, and the integrity of character!
The assignment is serious, I repeat, also for the time in which we live; and the way to go is anything but flat and open!
But your sympathy, young people, will compensate for the inadequacy of my strength; because for some time I have longed for an ideal that you alone can help me realize; and the affectionate demonstration, of which you would like to make me a sign on this day, encourages me to communicate it to you.
This ideal would be that your director be a guide, a counselor, a father for you! That he should never have recourse to austerity measures, either for the maintenance of a severe discipline as well as to excite your love of study and your assiduity to all schools.
A constant, tireless study, but wisely ordered, is an essential condition for forming true and complete artists! And to be able to do so, dear pupils, you will want to work hard. He entrusts me with the considerable number of distinguished young men and distinguished students who completed their studies in recent years, or who nevertheless follow the course of their education in our Institute (and today's essay is a luminous proof of this).
I am entrusted with the talent of the distinguished professors who constitute the Academic Corps, on whose zealous and effective cooperation I am happy and proud to be able to count.
Let's join our strength and we will achieve the goal!
Let me reach my ideal! This will be the greatest proof of esteem and affection that you will be able to give to those who will take every care in order to keep the fame of the Milanese Conservatory high, and with it to procure for you, beloved disciples, a non-ephemeral compensation for the noble labors.
Simone Vincenzo Velluti-Zatti, Duca di San Clemente (1808-1885) was a Napoleonic hereditary noble. A patron of the arts, he was also known to run debts for many years. He was a supporter of double bassist, composer and conductor Giovanni Bottesini a Milan Conservatory alumnus and the composer Teodoro Mabellini who wrote a “Messa di Gloria” in Velluti-Zatti’s name. Simone’s younger brother, Donato was a powerful Archbishop in the Catholic Church. Interestingly a descendant of Velluti-Zatti conned the rock musician Sting and his wife Trudy into buying the family vineyard. Sting has made it into a successful enterprise.
Printed on pulp paper, it is in remarkable condition given the age.