Ferrari, Giacomo Gotifredo


Italian composer and teacher, who was born at Roverdo, and received his first musical instruction at Mariaberg, near Chur. Ferrari's father intended him for a business career in his counting house, and thinking to discourage his musical tastes sent him to the monastery to study the languages. While at the school he heard the best sacred and profane music, which he was encouraged by the monks to study, and, by copying a great deal of it, he became early in life a solid musician. There he learned to play the hautboy, violin and doublebass. One of his teachers was the celebrated fuguist, Pater Marianus Stecher, who taught him piano and thorough-bass. He afterward studied at Naples, under Latilla, and also at Verona. He became not long afterward the traveling companion of Prince Wencelas Liechtenstein, and through the influence of Campan, master of the household of Marie Antoinette, he was taken to Paris, where he was appointed accompanist to the Queen, and later occupied a similar position at the Theatre Feydeau, Paris, which had been built for the Italian Opera. In 1793, after the company had disbanded, Ferrari left France and settled in London, where, in 1804, he married a Miss Henry, a well-known pianist. From 1809 to 1812 he was blind, and while in this condition dictated many of his compositions to his friends. He eventually recovered sufficiently to give lessons and to write out his music with the aid of a magnifying glass. In 1814 he returned to Italy with Broadwood, the piano-maker, visiting Naples, Venice and other cities, and shortly after publishing a treatise on singing in two volumes, of which a French translation appeared in 1827. Ferrari wrote a great deal of music and it was well received and is of considerable merit. Among his compositions were the operas, Les evenements imprevus, La Villanella rapita, and I due Suizzeri; sonatas; concertos for various instruments; canzonets; two ballets; and songs and divertimenti for the harp and piano, which are considered models. In the course of his thirty-one years' residence in London he composed much for the theatre and for public concerts. Two of his French songs attained a wide popularity in their day.