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Pietro Mascagni

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Pietro Mascagni

Biography

Pietro Antonio Stefano Mascagni (7 December 1863, Livorni, Tuscany – 2 August 1945, Rome) was an Italian composer most noted for his operas. Mascagni was born the second son of Domenico and Emilia Mascagni. His father owned and operated a bakery. In 1876, at the age of 13, Mascagni began musical studies with Alfredo Soffredini, who founded the Instituto Musicale di Livorno (later called Istituto Cherubini). The older man had just completed his musical studies in Milan. Also a native of Livorno, Soffredini was a composer, teacher and musical critic. The youth started composing rapidly, and between 1879 and 1880, he composed several works: Sinfonia in do minore, Prima sinfonia in fa maggiore, Elegia, Kyrie, Gloria and Ave Maria.

The premiere of Mascagni's first cantata, In Filanda, took place at the Istituto Cherubini on February 9, 1881. Performed at a musical contest in Milan, the cantata won the first prize. In the same year Mascagni met the musicians Arrigo Boito and Amilcare Ponchielli in Milan. He was appointed as the master of music and singing of the new philharmonia of Cerignola. His reputation grew. He also gave piano lessons. In February 1888, he began work on the Messa di Gloria. In July, Casa Sonzogno announced in the Teatro Illustrato its second competition for a one-act opera.

His 1890 masterpiece Cavalleria rusticana caused one of the greatest sensations in opera history and single-handedly ushered in the Verismo movement in Italian dramatic music. Some critics held that Mascagni, like Leoncavallo, was a "one-opera man" who could never repeat his first success, but L'amico Fritz and Iris have remained in the repertoire in Europe since their premieres.

Mascagni wrote fifteen operas, an operetta, several orchestral and vocal works, as well as songs and piano music. He enjoyed immense success during his lifetime, both as a composer and conductor of his own and other people's music. He created a variety of styles in his operas: a Sicilian passion and warmth of Cavalleria, the exotic flavor of Iris, the idylls of L'amico Fritz and Lodoletta, the Gallic chiaroscuro of Isabeau, the steely, veristic power of Il piccolo Marat, the over-ripe post-romanticism of the lush Parisina.


Works for Winds


References