Franchetti, Alberto


He is generally admitted to be the most talented as well as the most thoroughly trained musician of the modern Italian composers. He was born in Turin of wealthy parents. In 1880 young Franchetti entered the Munich Conservatory, and for three years studied composition and counterpoint there with Rheinberger. Later at Venice, where his family moved, he was a pupil of M Coccon and of Magi. He also studied at the Royal Conservatory at Dresden with Draeseke. In 1884 he received his diploma in composition for a symphony in E minor, which was later heard in several of the leading cities of Germany. After finishing his studies, Franchetti devoted himself exclusively to composition. His works are all highly spoken of by musicians, some critics having called him the Meyerbeer of Italy, claiming to have found many points of resemblance between him and the composer of Les Huguenots. Attention was first called to the work of Franchetti by the production of his dramatic legend, Asrael, which aroused the keenest interest in him as a composer. It was first produced at Reggio d'Emilia, Italy, in 1888, also at Hamburg, and elsewhere in Germany the same year. Then came Zoroaster and other operas, all of which had more than an ordinary success. Among them is Cristoforo Colombo, written for the city of Genoa on the occasion of the fourth centenary of the discovery of the new world celebrated in that city, October, 1892. This opera has enjoyed a wide popularity, particularly in Genoa, and has been heard in most of the large cities of Italy. By some it is considered Franchetti's masterpiece. It has been under consideration by Heinrich Conried for production at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. Among the composer's other operas, Fior d'Alpe was given at Milan in 1894, and in 1897 his comic opera, II signpr di Pourceaugnac, was produced in the same city. His opera, Germania, was first produced at La Scala, Milan, in 1902 and met with instant success, being given afterwards at Florence, Venice and Rome. The libretto was written by the well-known poet, Luigi Illica, and the theme as the name suggests is essentially Teutonic. The music is modern in character and the orchestration rich. After its production, Franchetti wrote an opera based on the Greek tragedy of CEdipus, entitled The Legend of King CEdipus, but it was laid aside while he devoted himself to his musical setting of D'Annunzio's La Figlia di Jorio, which has been given in all parts of Italy and in 1905 at the open-air theatre at Bologna. His other compositions include choruses for four voices; chamber-music; hymn for voices and orchestra; setting of a poem written on the occasion of the eighth centenary of study in Bologna, and a symphonic poem, Lorelei. His symphony in A minor has been highly praised, but it is Franchetti's operas which have made him known to the musical world. He has the advantage of great wealth, which has enabled him to produce his works at no matter what cost. He is an eccentric man, having no regular place of abode, but preferring to travel from place to place as his fancy dictates. He is careless to the degree of untidiness about his dress and exceedingly absent-minded. He is an indefatigable worker and apparently lives for his art alone. His music is not profoundly emotional, but his workmanship is sound and scholarly and he is generally regarded as a musician from whom much may be expected in the future. Franchetti is one of the few modern musicians who owe little or nothing to the influence of Wagner.