Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/483

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DURAND.
471
DURASTANTI.

on the violin from his father, a musician at the court of the king of Poland, he was sent in 1787 to Paris by a nobleman. Here he studied under Viotti, but appears not so much to have adopted the style of his master, as to have followed the bent of his own talent for the execution of technical tours de force. In 1794 and 95 he travelled in Germany and Italy, meeting everywhere with great success. Suddenly however, discarding the violin, he entered the French army, and became adjutant to one of the generals. Owing to some misconduct he was imprisoned at Milan, and had to quit the service. He then returned to the violin, and till 1814 led an unsettled life in Germany, continually changing his abode. He finally settled at Strassburg as leader of the band, and was living there in 1834. The date of his death is not known.

According to Fétis, Paganini confessed that his peculiar style and many of his most brilliant and popular effects were to a considerable degree derived from Durand, whom he had heard when young. There can be no doubt that Durand'a technical skill was extraordinary and his treatment of the violin full of originality. The full development of his talent appears however to have been impeded by his irregular habits of life. It is amongst other things related that he often had no violin of his own, and would play in public on any instrument he could get hold of, however bad. His compositions—concertos, airs varies, and a number of smaller pieces for the violin—show him to have been but an indifferent musician.

[ P. D. ]

DURANTE, Francesco, born at Frattamaggiore, Naples, March 15, 1684, a year before Handel and Bach. As a boy he entered the 'Conservatorio dei poveri di Gesu Cristo,' passed to that of S. Onofrio under A. Scarlatti, then perhaps (though this is doubtful) to Rome for five years' study under Pitoni and Pasquini. In 1718 became head of S. Onofrio, and in 1742 relinquished that post to succeed Porpora at the Conservatorio Santa Maria di Loreto at Naples, in which position he died Aug. 13, 1755. Durante was a man of singularly reserved and uncouth manners, yet he was three times married, and his pupils were not only numerous and very distinguished, but appear to have been much attached to him. His salary at S. Maria was but 10 ducats a month—not £20 [App. p.619 "about £55"] per annum—but out of it he contrived to add a chapel to the church of St. Antonio in his native town, with a statue of the archangel Gabriel, bearing his own name. He himself composed only for the church, but his scholars, Traetta, Vinci, Jomelli, Piccinni, Sacchini, Guglielmi, and Paisiello, were all great opera writers, and may be said to have occupied the stage of Europe during the last half of the 18th century to the exclusion of every one but Gluck and Mozart. The library of the Conservatoire at Paris contains a large collection of his works. The list, as given by Fétis, comprises 13 masses and credos; 16 psalms; hymns, motets, litanies, etc., to the number of 28. These are written for various numbers of voices from 3 to 9, occasionally with orchestra, but usually without. The Vienna library has in addition his Lamentations of Jeremiah, a so-called 'Pastoral-Mass' and other compositions.

His works have not been much published. The collections of Schlesinger, Rochlitz, and Commer, contain a few pieces—amongst them a Misericordias Domini for 8 voices, of which Hauptmann (Briefe an Hauser, ii. 112) speaks in high terms; and our own Fitzwilliam music has a Trio and a Chorus—but the bulk of them are still in MS. Durante and Leo are often spoken of as founders of the Neapolitan school, but it is difficult to understand this when they were preceded there by A. Scarlatti and Porpora.

[ G. ]

DURASTANTI, Margherita, a prima donna at the King's Theatre in the Haymarket, during Handel's management. She was born about 1695, and, like Senesino, was engaged from the Dresden Theatre. She was a married woman when she came here, and the following quotation from the 'Evening Post' of March 7, 1721, shows that she soon acquired favour at court:—'Last Thursday, his Majesty was pleased to stand godfather, and the Princess and Lady Bruce godmothers to a daughter of Mrs. Durastanti, chief singer in the Opera-house. The Marquis Visconti for the King, and the Lady Litchfield for the Princess.' This was so unusual a favour, that it seems likely that either she or her husband was of a noble family. She had already appeared in 1720 in company with Senesino. Her popularity continued: in 1721 she played the principal female parts in 'Muzio Scevola'; in 'Arsace'; and in 'Odio e l'amore,' probably a pasticcio. On Jan. 12, 1723, the 'Otho,' or 'Ottone,' of Handel was produced, and Durastanti played Gismonda, but a formidable rival had appeared in Cuzzoni, who sang the principal part of Theophane. Durastanti, however, continued to sing through this and the next season, in spite of Cuzzoni, and performed in 'Flavio,' 'Coriolano,' 'Erminia,' and 'Farnace.' In 24 she played Sesto in 'Giulio Cesare,' and appeared also in 'Calfurnia' and 'Vespasiano.' She took her leave of the public at her farewell performance in 'Calfurnia,' in a song written by Pope for her—some say at the desire of her patron the Earl of Peterborough—which ended with this couplet,

    'But let old charmers yield to new;
     Happy soil, adieu, adieu!'

If she understood the meaning of the words, her modesty was astonishing, and sets a brilliant example to all singers. Durastanti returned to London in 1733, in company with Carestini, Scalzi, and the two sisters Negri, to help Handel to withstand the opposition of Cuzzoni and Farinelli at the other house. Against old Porpora, their composer in ordinary, Handel was strong enough to put on a bold front; not so his singers against the company commanded by Porpora. On Jan. 26,1734, Handel produced his 'Ariadne,' on March 11 'Parnasso in Festa,' and subsequently a revival of 'Ottone'; in all which Durastanti