Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/418

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406
COSTA.
COSSMANN.

He had a considerable share with Joachim, and also with Bülow and Tausig, in the movement which took place under Liszt's leadership. In 1866 he became professor at the Conservatoire at Moscow, where he worked with Laub and Nicolaus Rubinstein until his return to Germany in 1870. Since then he has lived without any fixed appointment at Baden-Baden. Cossmann is a virtuoso of the first rank. He is remarkable alike for science, polished execution, and power of singing on the instrument. Furthermore he is a great soloist, and an excellent chamber musician, above all in quartets. This last quality he owes partly to his studies under Muller, and partly to the general cultivation he acquired at Weimar. He is much interested in compositions for his instrument; he has brought forward many new concertos, as well as those of Schumann and A. Rubinstein, which are too much neglected. His compositions embrace a concert-stück for cello, but are not important.

[ A. M. ]

COSTA, an Italian singer at the King's Theatre about 1790, appeared in Cimarosa's 'Ninetta,' in the 'Due Castellani burlati' of Fabrizi, in Nasolini's 'Andromaca,' Federici's 'L'Usurpatore innocente,' and Bianchi's 'Villanella rapita.' He was a good performer of what were called mezzi caratteri.

[ J. M. ]

COSTA, Andrea, teacher of singing; born at Brescia, settled in London in 1825. His best pupils were Mdme. Borgondio, and Mdme. Albertazzi. He published a method called 'Analytical Considerations on the Art of Singing' (London 1838).

[ M. C. C. ]

COSTA, Michael, son of the late Cavaliere Pasquale Costa, of an old Spanish family, was born at Naples Feb. 4, 1810. Having a great inclination for music, he was placed at the Royal Academy of Music in Naples, and at a public examination obtained a free scholarship from Ferdinand I, King of the two Sicilies. At the age of 15, he composed a cantata, for the theatre in the college, entitled 'L'Immagine.' In 1826 he composed for the same theatre an opera called 'Il Delitto punito'; and in 1827 another, 'Il Sospetto funesto.' He composed also at this period a Grand Mass for 4 voices, a 'Dixit Dominus,' three symphonies, and an oratorio, 'La Passione.' In 1828 Costa was engaged by the manager of the Teatro Nuovo to compose an opera semi-seria, called 'Il carcere d'Ildegonda.' In 1829 he composed 'Malvina,' an opera, for Barbaja, the famous impresario of San Carlo. In the autumn of that year, Zingarelli, his maestro, sent him to Birmingham, to direct a psalm of his composition, 'Super flumina Babilonis.' [App. p.600 "cantata on Is. xii."] On the young Costa's arrival, through some misunderstanding, he was obliged, having a fair tenor voice, to sing in the psalm, instead of directing the music. In 1830 he was engaged by Laporte, as maestro al piano at the King's Theatre. In the next year he composed the music of the grand ballet, 'Kenilworth.' In 1832 Monck Mason, the then impresario, engaged him as director of the music; and in that capacity he wrote the ballet, 'Une heure à Naples,' and several other pieces for operas and concert-rooms. 'This was the year,' writes Mr. Chorley, 'when (happy event for England!) the Italian orchestra was placed under the direction of Signor Costa.' In 1833, engaged by Laporte as director and conductor, he composed the ballet 'Sir Huon' for Taglioni, and the favourite quartet, 'Ecco quel fiero istante.' At the invitation of Severini, the impresario of the Italian opera at Paris, he wrote the opera 'Malek Adhel,' in 1837, which was performed there in February 1838 [App. p.600 "Jan. 14, 1837"] with moderate success, but with better fortune in London. The critic already quoted says on this point, 'Whether a great conductor can ever be a great composer, is a doubtful matter. … From the first evening when Signer Costa took up the baton,—a young man, from a country then despised by every musical pedant, a youth who came to England without flourish, announcement, or protection … it was felt that in him were combined the materials of a great conductor; nerve to enforce discipline, readiness to the second, and that certain influence which only a vigorous man could exercise over the disconnected folk who made up an orchestra in those days. His Malek Adhel is a thoroughly conscientious work, containing an amount of melody with which he has never been duly credited.' It contained a song for Rubini of stupendous difficulty—which has been a main obstacle to its revival—as well as some telling music for the other singers. In 1842 Costa composed the ballet-music of 'Alma' for Cerito; and in 1844 the opera 'Don Carlos.' In 1844 three new operas were produced in London, of which 'the worthiest,' says Mr. Chorley, 'was Signor Costa's Don Carlos, which had nevertheless not the good fortune to please the public. Yet it is full of good music: the orchestra is handled with a thorough knowledge of effect and colour. One trio for male voices is so solid and fine that it ought not to have been soon forgotten.' In 1846 he quitted the opera; and the orchestra, which he had brought to a point of perfection previously unknown in England, passed into other hands. In 1846 Costa undertook the direction of the Philharmonic orchestra; and that of the new Italian Opera, Covent Garden; and in 48 that of the Sacred Harmonic Society. In 49 he was engaged for the Birmingham Festival, which he has since continued to conduct. With the season of 54 he gave up the baton of the Philharmonic, and was succeeded (for one year) by Richard Wagner. In 55 he composed his oratorio 'Eli' for the Birmingham Festival. He conducted the Bradford Festival in 53, and the Leeds Festival in 74; and as conductor of the Sacred Harmonic Society has directed the Handel Festivals from 57 to the present date. Beside other occasional compositions, his second oratorio, 'Naaman,' was also written for Birmingham, in 1864. He has written additional accompaniments for 'Solomon,' 'Judas,' and others of Handel's oratorios for the Sacred Harmonic Society. In 1869 he received the honour of knighthood. Sir Michael is also