Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/62

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ALBRECHTSBERGER.
ALBERTAZZI.

for the last time. She died of consumption, Sept. 1847.

[ J. M. ]

ALBINONI, Tomasso, dramatic composer and violinist. Born at Venice in the latter half of the 17th century. The particulars of his life are entirely unknown. He wrote forty-two operas (the first of which appeared in 1694), which are said to have been successful from the novelty of their style, though a modern French critic describes the ideas as trivial and the music as dry and unsuited to the words. Greater talent is to be seen in his instrumental works, concertos, sonatas, and songs. He was also an excellent performer on the violin. Albinoni's sole interest for modern times resides in the fact that the great Bach selected themes from his works, as he did from those of Corelli and Legrenzi. 'Bach,' says Spitta (i. 423), 'must have been peculiarly partial to Albinoni. Down to a late period of his life he was accustomed to use bass parts of his for practice in thorough-bass, and Gerber relates that he had heard his father (a pupil of Bach's) vary these very basses in his master's style with astonishing beauty and skill.' Two fugues of the great Master's are known to be founded on themes of Albinoni's—both from his 'Opera prima.' One (in A) is to be found at No. 10 of Cahier 13 of Peter's edition of Bach's clavier-works; the other (in F♯ minor) at No. 5 of Cahier 3 of the same edition. For further particulars see Spitta, i. 423-426.

[ E. H. D. ]

ALBONI, Marietta, the most celebrated contralto of the 19th century, was born at Cesena, Romagna, in 1824 [App. p.520 "Mar. 10, 1823"]. Her first instruction was received in her native place; after which she was taught by Mme. Bertoletti, at Bologna, who has taught many other distinguished singers. There she met Rossini, and was so fortunate as to obtain lessons from him: she is said to have been his only pupil. Charmed with her voice and facility, he taught her the principal contralto parts in his operas, with the true traditions. With this great advantage Alboni easily procured an engagement for several years from Merelli, an impresario for several theatres in Italy and Germany. She made her first appearance at La Scala, Milan, 1843, in the part of Maffio Orsini. In spite of her inexperience, her voice and method were brilliant enough to captivate the public. In the same year she sang at Bologna, Brescia, and again at Milan; soon afterwards with equal success at Vienna. In consequence of some misunderstanding about salary she now broke her engagement with Merelli, and suddenly took flight to St. Petersburg. She remained there, however, but a short time; and we find her in 1845 singing at concerts in Hamburg, Leipzig, Dresden, as well as in Bohemia and Hungary. At the carnival of 1847 she sang at Rome in Pacini's 'Saffo,' introducing an air from Rossini's 'Semiramide,' which was enthusiastically applauded, but could not save the opera. In the spring of the same year she came to London, and appeared at Covent Garden, in the height of the 'Jenny land fever.' She was indeed a trump card for that establishment against the strong hand of the rival house. The day after her début the manager spontaneously raised her salary for the season from £500 to £2000, and her reputation was established. She sang in 'Semiramide' first, and afterwards in 'Lucrezia Borgia'; and in the latter had to sing the 'Brindisi' over and over again, as often as the opera was performed. As Pippo in the 'Gazza Ladra' she had to sing the whole first solo of the duett 'Ebben per mia memoria' three times over. Her appearance at that time was really splendid. Her features were regularly beautiful, though better fitted for comedy than tragedy; and her figure, not so unwieldy as it afterwards became, was not unsuited to the parts she played. Her voice, a rich, deep, true contralto of fully two octaves, from G to G, was as sweet as honey, and perfectly even throughout its range. Her style gave an idea, a recollection, of what the great old school of Italian singing had been, so perfect was her command of her powers. The only reproach to which it was open was a certain shade of indolence and insouciance, and a want of fire at times when more energy would have carried her hearers completely away. Some singers have had the talent and knowledge to enable them to vary their fiorituri: Alboni never did this. When you had heard a song once from her, perfect as it was, you never heard it again but with the selfsame ornaments and cadenze. Her versatility was great,—too great, perhaps, as some critics have said; and it has been asserted that she did serious harm to her voice by the attempt to extend it upwards. This is, however, not clear to all her admirers, since she has returned to her legitimate range. She sang again in London in 1 848 at Covent Garden, and in 1849, 1851, 1856, 1857, and 1858 at Her Majesty's Theatre. She appeared at Brussels in 1848, with no less success than in London and Paris. In 1849 she returned to Paris, and sang with equal éclat in 'Cenerentola,' 'L'Italiana in Algieri,' and 'La Gazza Ladra.' In the next year she visited Geneva, and made a tour of France, singing even in French at Bourdeaux in the operas 'Charles VI,' 'La Favorite,' 'La Reine de Chypre,' and 'La Fille du Régiment.' On her return to Paris she surpassed the boldness of this experiment by attempting the part of Fidés in the 'Prophète' at the Grand Opera, and with the most brilliant success. She now made a tour in Spain, and next a triumphal progress through America. Of late years, since her marriage with Count A. Pepoli, a gentleman of old Bolognese family, she has lived in Paris, where she has delighted her admirers with most of her old characters as well as some new, and notably in the part of Fidalma in Cimarosa's 'Matrimonio Segreto.' Since the untimely death of her husband she has been heard only in Rossini's 'Mass,' in which she sang in London in 1871, and similar music. [App. p.520 adds "See also Covent Garden Theatre. Mr. Louis Engel states that Alboni first knew Rossini in 1844, and that she sang a duet with Madame Patti at that master's funeral."]

[ J. M. ]

ALBRECHTSBERGER, Johann Georg. Contrapuntist and teacher of sacred music, composer and organist; born Feb. 3, 1736, at Kloster-