Pacini, Giovanni



This prolific composer of both operatic and sacred music was born at Catania, Sicily. His father, a noted tenor-singer, took him, as a child, to Rome to begin his musical education. He later went to Bologna, where he studied singing under Marchesi and counterpoint and harmony with Mattei, and from 1808 to 1812 he was taught by Furlanetto in Venice. As he was educated for a choir-singer, his first compositions were naturally for the church, but his dramatic talent was not slow in making itself manifest, and in 1813 his first opera, Annetta e Lucindo, was written for the Santa Redegonda Theatre, Milan. It was favorably received at Venice the next year, and from that time until 1834 the theatres of various Italian cities produced over forty of his operas, among them, La Sacerdotessa d' Irminsul; Atala; La schiava de Bagdad; Cesare in Egitto; La Vestale; Alessandro nelle Indie; Amazilea; L'ultimo giorno di Pompei; Niobe; Gli Arabi nell Gallic; II Talismano; II Corsaro; and Ivanhoe. On the failure of his Carlo di Borgogna, in Venice in 1834, he stopped composing temporarily and retired to Viareggio, where he founded a very successful school of music, in connection with which he established a theatre. For the benefit of his pupils he wrote a number of treatises, Memoria sub migliore indirizzo degli studi musicali; Corso teoretico-prattico di lezioni di armonia; Cenni storicii sulla musica e trattato di contrapunto; Principi elementari col metodo pel meloplasta; and other minor treatises. He also wrote for musical papers, and was director of music at Florence, where in 1865 his autobiography appeared. His school had meantime been transferred to Lucca and he had resumed his composing, trying to rid himself of the Rossini style, which had pervaded his earlier works. In 1840 Saffo was given at Naples, and in 1842 Medea so delighted the people of Palermo, that a statue of Pacini was placed beside that of Bellini in the Royal Villa. Then followed Regini di Cipro, Lorenzino de Medice, II Cid, and many others. In all Pacini wrote about ninety operas, and over seventy other works, including A Dante cantata, or symphony as it is also called, and other cantatas; masses; six string quartets; an octet; trios; duets; anas; and oratorios, notably La Destruzione di Gerusalemme, Carrere Mamertino and II Trionfo di Giuditta. He was appointed chapelmaster to the Empress Maria Louise, widow of Napoleon I., in 1825, the year of his first marriage. He was subsequently married twice and had nine children. Pacini was most popular in his day, but he was not original enough to become a great master. His imitation of Rossini is quite patent and his works, though melodious, are carelessly written. Consequently they have fallen into disuse, Saffo, which was written in twenty-eight days, being the last to follow the fate of its companions.