Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/429
himself with the Opera at Lisbon, where he sang for the next four years. Returning to Italy, he reappeared at Milan in Mayr's 'Alonzo e Cora' and Federici's 'Ifigenia,' in 1803. He sang at Piacenza, at the opening of the new theatre, and then went to Vienna with the appointment of professor of singing to the Imperial family. Napoleon having heard him there, was so charmed that he determined to engage him permanently, and secured to him a handsome salary. He also gave him the decoration of the Iron Crown, which provoked almost as much discussion as Napoleon's distribution of thrones and sceptres had done. It is related that, in a salon at Paris, when a pompous orator was holding forth on the subject of the honour conferred on Crescentini, and inquired what right he could have to such a distinction,—the beautiful Mme. Grassini, who was present, rose majestically, and with theatrical tone and gesture exclaimed, 'Et sa blessure, monsieur!' A storm of laughter and applause stopped the discussion. Crescentini sang at Paris from 1806 to 1812, when his voice showed signs of suffering from an uncongenial climate, and he with difficulty obtained permission to retire. He went to Bologna, and then to Rome, where he remained till 1816, when he settled at Naples as professor at the Royal College of Music. He was the last great singer of his school. 'Nothing could exceed,' says Fétis, 'the suavity of his tones, the force of his expression, the perfect taste of his ornaments, or the large style of his phrasing.' In Romeo he affected Napoleon and the whole of the audience to tears by his singing of the prayer, and the air 'Ombra adorata.' The prayer of Romeo was of his own composition, for this excellent singer was also a composer; he published at Vienna in 1797 several collections of Ariette, and some admirable exercises for the voice, with a treatise on vocalisation in French and Italian, at Paris. He died at Naples in 1846 [App. p.601 "April 24"].
[ J. M. ]
CRESPEL, Guillaume, a Belgian musician living in the latter half of the 15th century, and composer of a lament on the death of Ockenheim, which is of historical importance as giving what may be considered an authentic list of the most distinguished pupils of that master:—
'Agricola, Verbonnet, Prioris,
Josquin des Prés, Gaspard, Brumel, Compère,
Ne parlez plus de joyeux chants, ne ris,
Mais composez un ne recorderis
Pour lamenter nostre Maistre et bon père.'
[ J. R. S. B. ]
[ W. H. H. ]
CRISTOFORI, Bartolommeo di Francesco—written Cristofali by Maffei—a harpsichord-maker of Padua, and subsequently of Florence, and the inventor of the pianoforte. Other claims to this discovery have great interest and will be noticed elsewhere (see Pianoforte and Schröter), but the priority and importance of Cristofori's invention have been so searchingly investigated and clearly proved by the late Cavaliere Leto Puliti, that the Italian origin of the instrument, which its name would indicate, can be no longer disputed.
Cristofori was born in 1651 [App. p.601 "probably May 4, 1655 (the date given by Paloschi)"] (Fétis and Pietrucci in their respective memoirs erroneously state 1683). It may be surmised that he was the best harpsichord-maker in Florence [App. p.601 "Padua"], inasmuch as Prince Ferdinand, son of the Grand Duke Cosmo III, a skilled harpsichord player, who visited Padua in 1687, induced him then or very soon after to transfer himself from that city to Florence. We have evidence that in 1693 Cristofori wrote from Florence to engage a singer—the only time he appears in the Prince's voluminous correspondence. In 1709 Maffei visited Florence to seek the patronage of Prince Ferdinand for his 'Giornale dei Letterati d' Italia' and in vol. v. of that work, published in 1711, Maffei states that Cristofori had made four 'gravicembali col piano e forte,' three distinctly specified as of the large or usual harpsichord form, the fourth differing in construction, and most likely in the clavichord or spinet form: there was among the Prince's musical instruments a 'cimbalo in forma quadra,' an Italian spinet which when altered to a pianoforte would be termed a square. In 1719, in his 'Rime e Prose,' published at Venice, Maffei reproduced his description of Cristofori's invention without reference to the previous publication. As these pianofortes were in existence in 1711, it is just possible that Handel may have tried them, since he was called to Florence in 1708 by Prince Ferdinand to compose the music for a melodrama, remained there a year and brought out his first opera 'Rodrigo.'
The Prince died in 1713, and Cristofori continuing in the service of the Grand Duke, in 1716 received the charge of the eighty-four musical instruments left by the Prince. Of these nearly half were harpsichords and spinets—seven bearing the name of Cristofori himself. It is curious however that not one of them is described as 'col piano e forte' and also interesting that in the receipt to this inventory we have Cristofori's own handwriting as authority for the spelling now adopted of his name.
The search for Cristofori's workshop proving unsuccessful, Puliti infers that the Prince had
- Cenni Storiél della vita del serenissimo Ferdinando dei Medici, etc. Esiratto dagli Atti dell' Accademia del It. Istituto Musciale di Firenze 1874