Giardini, Felice de

1716-1796

Eminent Italian violinist and composer for his instrument; was born at Turin; was choir-boy in the Cathedral at Milan, where he was a pupil of Paladini in harpsichord, composition and singing; he afterward returned to Turin and studied violin under Somis. He played in the orchestra of an opera at Rome, and later in that of the Theatre San Carlo, Naples. Beginning in 1748 he made a tour in Germany and France, winning great favor in Paris, and appeared in London in 1750, according to most authorities, with the greatest success. Brilliancy of execution and purity of tone-quality are said to have been the prominent points in his playing. Upon the death of Festing, in 1752, he became leader of the Italian Opera in London, and four years later undertook its management; failing in this financially, he returned to concert work, but shouldered the management again from 1763 to 1765. As a conductor he was thoroughly successful, and in addition to playing and teaching he conducted the Pantheon concerts from 1774 to 1780, and in 1782 resumed his first position at the Italian Opera. Within the next two years he went to Italy, but in 1790 he returned to London; attempted, but failed to establish an Italian light opera there, after which he took his troupe to Russia, and died in Moscow. Giardini composed several operas, produced in London with small success; also an oratorio, Ruth; a number of songs and some chamber-music; but his best works were written for violin, though they shared the common Italian fault of over-elaboration, and as a composer he is interesting only in a historical sense.