Carlo Tessarini

Biography

Born: 1690; Italy   Died: December, 1766; Arnheim, The Netherlands  
Italian composer Carlo Tessarini is something of a cipher, despite his publication of some 40 editions of music between 1721 and 1766, half of which he issued himself. Although he was certainly born before 1700, the earliest reference to Tessarini is not found until 1720 when he is identified as a violinist in the orchestra of St. Mark's in Venice. The last mention of him comes from December 1766, through an advertisement of a concert appearance Read more he made in Arnheim; he is assumed to have died right after that.

Fétis suggested that Tessarini might have studied with Arcangelo Corelli, though there is no direct documentary evidence of this, anymore than there is evidence that Tessarini studied, or had contact with, Antonio Vivaldi, though internally Tessarini's music seems to indicate that this was so. It is sometimes erroneously stated that Tessarini was once employed by the Ospedale della Pietà, Vivaldi's main stomping ground, but Tessarini was actually employed, until 1731, by the Ospedale del Derelitti, also in Venice. Tessarini went from there to the cathedral in Urbino, where he remained at least until 1743, although from 1730 to 1737 he'd also served in the court of Bohemian Cardinal Wolfgang Hannibal Schattenbach in Brno. In 1740, Tessarini accepted a theater orchestra post in Rome, only to see it nullified by the death of Pope Clement XII. From about 1744 Tessarini seems to have moved in a Northerly direction, concertizing between Paris, London, and the Netherlands, though in the 1750s he is intermittently found at Urbino Cathedral once again. It is believed that Tessarini died in the Netherlands, though there is no record of it.

From 1729, Tessarini began to publish his music through a printing establishment operated by his brother; by 1765, Tessarini had issued some 20 opus numbers, and an equal number of early prints of his work appeared in unauthorized editions during his lifetime. Tessarini left behind at least 70 symphonies, 90 concertos, and 140 works for chamber ensembles; significantly, not a note of vocal music is known from Tessarini, despite his long, if often interrupted, association with Urbino Cathedral. Among his most important contributions was the violin method Gramatica di musica (1741; English title "An accurate method to attain the art of playing ye violin"), which appeared in three languages. Although one does not find in the historical record the kind of laudatory praise lavished on Tessarini's violin playing as that for his idol Vivaldi, judging from his extensive touring and the high level of difficulty of his solo violin parts, Tessarini must've been very, very good.

Further considering the wide distribution of his published music, some in multiple editions appearing throughout Europe, it appears that Tessarini was a very popular composer in his time -- why the historical record remains silent about him outside of references on the title pages of his editions, concert advertising, and the occasional entry in a payment register remains a mystery. Read less

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