Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mazzinghi, Joseph

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1405385Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 37 — Mazzinghi, Joseph1894Louisa M. Middleton

MAZZINGHI, JOSEPH, Count (1765–1844), composer, descended from an ancient Corsican family, was the eldest son of Tommaso Mazzinghi, a wine merchant settled in London. According to Cansick, the composer's father, who died in 1775, was violinist at Marylebone Gardens (St. Pancras Epitaphs). A Tommaso Mazzinghi published six solos for the violin, London, 1763.

Mazzinghi was born on 25 Dec. 1765 (Gent. Mag.) His mother's sister, Cassandra Frederich (afterwards Mrs. Wynne), a pianist, interested herself in his musical training, and he was a pupil of John Christian Bach, and later of Bertolini, Sacchini, and Anfossi. At the age of ten he became organist to the Portuguese Chapel (1775). He is said to have held the post of composer and director of music at the Italian opera from 1785 to 1792 (Georgian Era). He may have assisted the advertised directors, Anfossi and Cherubini, at the King's Theatre, Haymarket, but it was not until 9 Jan. 1787 that his connection with the theatre was advertised, when Cimarosa's ‘Giannina e Bernardone’ was announced, ‘under the direction of Signor Mazzinghi,’ for 9 Jan. 1787. Several songs in the pasticcio were by him. On 8 Dec. 1787 Paisiello's ‘Il Re Teodoro in Venezia’ was performed, with Mazzinghi, who had supplied some of the music, at the harpsichord. While holding the office Mazzinghi was not only responsible for alterations of and additions to various Italian operas, but brought out several ballets: ‘L'Amour et Psiche’ on 6 March 1788, ‘Sapho et Phaon,’ ‘Eliza,’ and others. He remained at his post until the King's Theatre was burnt down on 17 June 1789. In 1791 he was director of the Pantheon, the managers of which had succeeded in securing the one license granted for Italian opera. The Pantheon was, in its turn, destroyed by fire on 14 Jan. 1792. On 1 March Mazzinghi conducted at the ‘Little Theatre in the Haymarket,’ called then Theatre Royal, Paisiello's ‘La Locanda.’ He had reconstructed the opera, the score of which had been lost in the fire. The new King's Theatre, Haymarket, opened for Italian opera under other direction in 1793.

In the meantime Mazzinghi had set music to Merry's comic opera, ‘The Magician no Conjuror,’ produced at Covent Garden on 2 Feb. 1792. Other English operas by Mazzinghi were: ‘A Day in Turkey,’ 1791; ‘The Wife of Two Husbands,’ 1803; ‘The Exile,’ the Covent Garden company acting at the Opera House, 1808; ‘Free Knights,’ with the popular duet, ‘When a little farm we keep,’ 1810; and in collaboration with Reeve, who wrote the lighter airs, ‘Ramah Droog,’ 1798; ‘The Turnpike Gate,’ 1799; ‘Paul and Virginia,’ 1800; ‘The Blind Girl,’ 1801; and ‘Chains of the Heart,’ which gave much pleasure to George III, 1802.

Mazzinghi's concertanti were played at the professional concerts (Pohl, Haydn in London), and his miscellaneous compositions were popular, especially those for the pianoforte. He taught the pianoforte to many influential pupils, among them the Princess of Wales, afterwards Queen Caroline. He was entrusted with the arrangement of the concerts at Carlton House, and of the Nobility concerts, established in 1791, and held on Sunday evenings at private houses. For fifty-six years Mazzinghi was a member of the Royal Society of Musicians. In about 1790 he entered into partnership with the firm of Goulding, D'Almaine, & Co., who published all his music after that date.

Visiting Italy in 1834, Mazzinghi recovered the title of count. On his return to England he retired to Bath (Bath Journal). He died on 15 Jan. 1844 at Downside College, where he had been on a visit to his son. He was buried with some pomp in the vault of the Chelsea catholic church on the 25th (Gent. Mag. 1844, p. 322).

Besides the stage-pieces mentioned above, Mazzinghi published between seventy and eighty pianoforte sonatas; upwards of two hundred airs, &c., for pianoforte, and as many for harp and other instruments; thirty-five or more vocal trios, of which ‘The Wreath’ is still remembered; and a number of songs. A full list of his music is given in the ‘Dictionary of Musicians,’ 1827. Much of this mass of work, produced with apparent ease, was musicianly; but the flowing melodies were seldom strikingly original.

[Dictionary of Musicians, 1827, ii. 139; Georgian Era, iv. 524; Pohl's Mozart in London, pp. 30, 177; Haydn in London, pp. 18, 33, 173; Gent. Mag. 1771 p. 524, 1844 i. 322; Bath Journal, 20 Jan. 1844; Musical World, 25 Jan. 1844; Times, 18 Jan. 1844; Thespian Dict.; Grove's Dict. ii. 242.]

L. M. M.