Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/252

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240
BIBER.
BIANCA.

BIANCA, or the Bravo's Bride, a 'grand legendary opera' in 4 acts; words by Palgrave Simpson; music by Balfe. Produced at Covent Garden, Thursday, Dec. 6, 1860.

BIANCA E FALIERO, an opera by Rossini, produced at the Scala at Milan Dec. 26, 1819; one of Rossini's few failures. The subject is the same with that of Manzoni's 'Conte di Carmagnola.'

BIANCHI, Francesco, an Italian singer engaged at the King's Theatre in the Haymarket in 1748, who sang in the 'Comedia in Comedia ' of Rinaldo da Capua, and other operas.

[ J. M. ]

BIANCHI, Francesco, born at Cremona 1752. In 1775 he was appointed 'Maestro al Cembalo' to the Italian Opera in Paris under Piccinni, and there composed his first opera, 'La Reduction de Paris.' In 1780 he produced 'Castore e Polluce' at Florence, with the English Storace as the prima donna. This successful opera was rapidly followed by many others. In 1784 he was made vice-conductor at S. Ambrogio in Milan, and held an important post at the Scala. A curious story is told of his 'Desertore Francese.' The hero (Pacchierotti) appeared in the uniform of a French soldier, which so scandalised the classic Venetians that they hissed the opera off the stage. Fortunately however the Duchess of Courland passing through Venice expressed a desire to hear it, and courtesy having compelled the audience to keep silence, the music so enchanted them that the objectionable costume was forgotten, and the opera obtained an exceptional success. Some years later, Joseph II offered to take Bianchi into his service, but died (1790) before the latter could reach Vienna. In 1793 Bianchi came to London, having been offered an engagement at the King's Theatre on account of the success of his 'Semiramide,' in which the famous Banti was prima donna. This engagement lasted for seven years. In the intervals of the London season he made short tours abroad, and in one of these composed his 'Inez de Castro' at Naples (1794) for Mrs. Billington's first appearance on the Italian stage. Haydn's diary contains a favourable account of Bianchi's 'Acige e Galatea,' which he heard in London in 1794, but he considered the accompaniments too powerful for the voices. Haydn is also said to have kept one page in Bianchi's compositions turned down for reference when anything had ruffled his temper. In 1800 he married Miss Jackson, a singer, best known as Mrs. Bianchi Lacy—her name by her second marriage. From this time he was chiefly occupied in teaching till his death, by his own hand, at his house in Hammersmith (1810). His tombstone is in Kensington churchyard. Bianchi composed above fifty operas and oratorios, besides instrumental music. He was also the author of a work on the theory of music, portions of which are printed in Bacon's 'Musical Quarterly Review' (ii. 22). Enough has been said to show the estimation of Bianchi by his contemporaries. His chief value to us resides in the fact that he was the master of Sir Henry Bishop. Bianchi has been sometimes confounded with Bertoni, perhaps because of the connection of both with Pacchierotti.

[ M. C. C. ]

BIANCHI, Signora, a good Italian singer who came over with Tramezzani, and appeared at the same time in Guglielmi's 'Sidagero.' She remained for some time as 'a respectable second.'

[ J. M. ]

BIBER, Heinrich Johann Franz von, a celebrated German violin-player and composer, born at Warthenberg in Bohemia about 1638, and died in 1698 at Salzburg, where he occupied the double post of high steward and conductor of music at the court of the Prince-Archbishop. His reputation as a performer and composer was very great, and the Emperor Leopold was so delighted with him that he not only presented him with a gold chain and a considerable sum of money, but also raised him to the rank of a nobleman. We, who have to form our estimate of Biber's merits and of his place in the history of violin-playing from those of his compositions which have come down to us, may well contend that his is the first German violin music of any artistic worth at all. At that period the art of violin-playing and the style of composing for the instrument in Germany were entirely under the influence of Italy. Unfortunately the earliest German violinists appear to be more connected with Farina and his school than with Vitali, Torelli, and Veracini. Thus we find the works of J. J. Walther (see that name), a contemporary of Biber, who enjoyed a great reputation in Germany, chiefly consisting, like those of Farina, of unconnected phrases, equally void of musical ideas and form, apparently invented to show off the performer's skill in execution, and often only devoted to crude and childish imitation of natural sounds. Although Biber can not be pronounced free from the faults of his German contemporaries—since his forms are often vague and his ideas somewhat aphoristic—still his sonatas contain some pieces which not only exhibit a well-defined form, but also contain fine and deeply-felt ideas, and a style which, though nearly related to that of the best Italians of his time, has something characteristically German in its grave and pathetic severity. Altogether Biber represents an immense progress in the art of violin-playing in Germany. That his powers of execution were very considerable we must conclude from his mode of writing for the violin, which presupposes great proficiency in the playing of double stops as well as dexterity in bowing. It is also worth notice that he appears to have been the first occasionally to modify the usual way of tuning the instrument. In two of his sonatas the violin must be tuned thus:—

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \time 6/4 { <a e' a' d''>1 } }, and thus:— { \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \time 6/4 { <g d' a' d''>1 } }.

The following compositions of his have been published:—(1) Six sonatas for violin with figured