A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Piffero
PIFFERO is really the Italian form of the English word Fife, and the German Pfeife. In the 'Dizionario della Musica' it is described as a small flute with six finger-holes and no keys. But the term is also commonly used to denote a rude kind of oboe, or a bagpipe with an inflated sheepskin for reservoir, common in Italy, and occasionally to be seen about the streets of London, the players being termed Pifferari. [See Pastoral Symphony, vol. ii. p. 670 b.]
Spohr, in his Autobiography (Dec. 5, 1816), quotes a tune which he says was played all over Rome at that season by Neapolitan pipers, one playing the melody on a sort of 'coarse powerful oboe,' the other the accompaniment on a bagpipe sounding like three clarinets at once. We give a few bars as a specimen.
It is a very different tune from Handel's 'Pastoral Symphony.'
[ W. H. S. ]