Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/368

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
356
MONTE.
MONSIGNY.

at Pauquembergue near St. Omer, Oct. 17, 1729, showed a taste for music in childhood, and studied the violin with success, though not intended for the profession of music. His father died just as he had completed his classical education, and wishing to help his family, Monsigny went to Paris in 1 749, and obtained a clerkship ' in the Bureaux des Comptes du Clergé. Having good patrons, for his family was a noble one, and being well-educated, refined in manners, and a skilful violinist, he was soon attached to the household of the Duke of Orleans as maître d'hotel, with a salary which placed him above want, and enabled him to provide for his younger brothers. He then resumed his musical studies, and Pergolese's 'Serva Padrona' having inspired him with a vehement desire to compose a comic opera, he took lessons from Gianotti, who played the double-bass at the Opéra and taught harmony on Rameau's system. He was a good teacher, and his pupil made so much progress that it is said Gianotti would not have been averse to putting his own name on the score of 'Les Aveux indiserets' which Monsigny submitted to him after only five months' tuition, and which at once established his fame when produced at the Théâtre de la Foire (Feb. 7, 1759). Encouraged by this first success he composed for the same theatre, 'Le Maître en droit' (Feb. 13, 1760), and 'Le Cadi dupé' (Feb. 4. 1761), which contains an animated and truly comic duet. His next opera, 'On ne's'avise jamais de tout' (Sept. 14, 1761), was the first in which he had the advantage of a libretto by Sedaine, and the last performed at the Théâtre de la Foire, before it was closed at the request of the artists of the Comédie Italienne, in fear of the new composer's increasing reputation. After the fusion of the two companies Monsigny composed successively 'Le Roi et le Fermier,' 3 acts (Nov. 22, 1762); 'Rose et Colas,' 1 act (March 8, 1764); 'Aline, Reine de Golconde' 3 acts, (April. 15, 1766); 'L'lle sonnante,' 3 acts (Jan. 4. 1768); 'Le Déserteur,' 3 acts (March 6, 1769); 'Le Faucon,' 1 act (March 19, 1772); 'La belle Arsène,' 3 acts (Aug. 14, 1775); 'Le rendezvous bien employé,' 1 act (Feb. 10, 1774); and 'Félix ou l'enfant trouvé,' 3 acts (Nov. 24, 1777). After the immense success of this last work he never composed again. He had acquired a considerable fortune as steward to the Duke of Orleans, and Inspector-general of canals, but the Revolution deprived him of his employment, and of nearly all his resources. However in 1798 the sociétaires of the Opéra-Comique came to his assistance, and in recognition of his services to the theatre, allowed him an annuity of 2,400 francs (nearly £100). On the death of Piccinni two years later, he was appointed Inspector of Instruction at the Conservatoire de Musique, but he resigned in 1802, being aware that he could not adequately perform the duties of the office, from his own insufficient training. In 1813 he succeeded Grétry at the Institut; but it was not till 1816 that he received the Legion of Honour. He died Jan. 14, 1817, aged 88, his last years being soothed by constant testimonies of sympathy and respect.

As an artist Monsigny's greatest gift was melody. His desultory training accounts for the poverty of his instrumentation, and for the absence of that ease, plasticity, and rapidity of treatment, which are the most charming attributes of genius. He was not prolific; and either from fatigue, or from a dread of an encounter with Grétry, he ceased to compose immediately after his greatest triumph; his exquisite sensibility, and his instinct for dramatic truth, have however secured him a place among original and creative musicians.

[ G. C. ]

MONTAGNANA, Antonio, is the name of a celebrated basso, who appeared in England in the autumn of 1731. He made his debut on the London boards in 'Poro' (revived); and in January, 1732, he created the bass rôle in 'Ezio,' Handel having written specially for him the famous song 'Nasce al bosco,' which is composed on a different plan from most of his other bass songs, and was clearly intended to exhibit the peculiar powers of the singer. This opera was followed by 'Sosarme,' in which Montagnana had again an air 'Fra l'ombre e l'orrori,' in which the depth, power, and mellow quality of his voice, and his rare accuracy of intonation in hitting distant and difficult intervals, were displayed to full advantage. In the same year he sang in Handel's 'Acis,' a revival of 'Alessandro,' 'Flavio,' 'Coriolano,' and in 'Esther.' In 1733 Montagnana took part in 'Deborah,' 'Tolomeo,' 'Ottone,' 'Orlando,' and 'Athaliah' (at Oxford). In 'Orlando' he had another very difficult song composed expressly for him, 'Sorge infausta,' which has remained a trial of compass and execution, since his day, for the most accomplished bassi.

In the following year, however, Montagnana seceded, with Senesino and Cuzzoni, to the Theatre in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, under the direction of Porpora; and here he appeared in 'Onorio' by that master, and other pieces. In 1735 and 36 he was still with Porpora, singing in his 'Polifemo,' and the 'Adriano' of Veracini. In January, 1738, he returned to his allegiance to Handel, singing in 'Faramondo' then first produced, 'La Conquista del Velio d'Oro,' and 'Serse.' After this we hear no more of Montagnana.

[ J. M. ]

MONTE, Philippe or Filippo de, and sometimes Philippe de Mons, born probably in 1521 or 22,[1] traditionally at Mons, but according to Dlabacz at Mechlin.[2] As to his history we gain little by consulting old authorities, as Boissart,[3] Bullart,[4] Freher,[5] Sweertius[6] etc., and are told as much by the title-pages of Philippe's own

  1. Sadeler's portrait, the single authority for this date, gives Philippe's age as 72 in 1594.
  2. 'Allgem. hlstor. Künstler Lex. fur Böhmen.,' 4to. (Prag. 1815). Dlabacz founds his statement on a list of the Imperial chapel dated 1582. For a full discussion of the subject see Fétis' Biographie, under 'Philippe de Mons.'
  3. Boissardus, 'Icones Viror. Illustr.,' pars 3. p. 32 (1593).
  4. Bullart, 'Academie des Sciences,' etc., vol. ii. bk. 4. p. 299 (Brusselles 1682).
  5. Freheri, 'Theatrum vir. clarorum (Nuremberg 1688).
  6. Sweertius, 'Athenæ Belgicæ,' p. 645 (Antwerp 1628).