Gaetano Donizetti (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Donizetti was the most prolific composer of Italian operas in the first half of the nineteenth century. Though his work are uneven in quality, he was, at his best, the greatest and most vital exponent of Italian Romanticism before Giuseppe Verdi.
Gaetano Donizetti was the fifth of six children born to Andrea and Domenica Nava Donizetti. He was born in a basement apartment, where, according to his later recollection, “no glimmer of light ever penetrated.” His father, who discouraged him from pursuing a career as a composer, followed no particular trade; after 1808, he earned a miserable existence as the janitor of the local pawnshop.
In 1806, a free music school was established in Bergamo under the direction of Johann Simon Mayr. The eight-year-old Donizetti was one of the first students to enroll in the institution which would later bear his name (Istituto Musicale Gaetano Donizetti), and he continued his studies there until 1814. Donizetti’s extraordinary fluency in composition in later years was a result at least in part of the rigorous training of Mayr, himself a successful composer of Italian operas.
At Mayr’s urging, Donizetti went to Bologna to study counterpoint and fugue at the Liceo Filarmonico, then perhaps the most distinguished music school in Italy. His master in Bologna was the highly erudite Padre Mattei, who had formerly taught Gioacchino...
(The entire section is 1717 words.)
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