OBITUARY:Gianandrea Gavazzeni

Pianist, composer, conductor and music critic: Gianandrea Gavazzeni was best known during the last 45 years of his long life as a conductor, but earlier in his career he was a youthful prodigy on the piano, and the composer of orchestral works, songs and other vocal pieces, including a one-act opera.

At first he conducted mainly his own works then, finding his true metier, began to concentrate on conducting opera. His connection with La Scala in Milan, of which he was from 1965 to 1968 the artistic director, lasted for nearly 50 years, while he worked in all the other great opera houses of Italy, and a number abroad.

Born in Bergamo, also the birthplace of Donizetti, Gavazzeni entered the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome at the age of 11 to study the piano. Later he studied composition at the Milan Conservatory, where he was taught by Ildebrando Pizzetti, whose influence on the young man was profound.

Among Gavazzeni's earliest compositions was the successful Concerto bergamasco for orchestra (1931). He also wrote a cello concerto, a violin concerto, an oratorio, Canti per Sant' Alessandro (1934), the one-act opera Paolo e Virginia, performed in Bergamo in 1935, and a two-act ballet Il furioso nell' isola di San Domingo, given at San Remo in 1936. In 1949 he abruptly gave up composition, refusing to allow his earlier works to be played.

Meanwhile, Gavazzeni's career, to begin with as pianist and repetiteur, then as conductor, was flourishing. He first conducted at La Scala in April 1944 two performances of Wolf- Ferrari's Il campiello. Next year he conducted a double bill of Stravinsky's Mavra and Ghedini's La pulce d'oro, followed in 1948 by Tosca. Returning in 1954, he led a famous production of Honegger's Joan of Arc at the Stake, with Ingrid Bergman in the (spoken) title-role. From 1955 he conducted regularly at La Scala in a wide repertory that combined the popular Italian composers such as Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, Mascagni and Puccini with the works of other, less well-known figures, including Respighi and Zandonai. A particular supporter of Pizzetti, his former teacher, he conducted the premieres of Murder in the Cathedral (based on T.S. Eliot's play) in 1958, Il calzare d'argento in 1961 and Clitennestra in 1965, as well as revivals of La figlia di Jorio, and Fedra, the latter with Regine Crespin.

He also conducted Giordano's Fedora, with Maria Callas; Donizetti's Anna Bolena, also with Callas; Tosca with Renata Tebaldi; Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots, with Joan Sutherland; and Gluck's Alceste with Leyla Gencer, the Turkish soprano to whom he acted for many years as mentor.

At the Rome Opera in 1953 he conducted Lucia di Lammermoor with Callas. For the 1955 Maggio Musicale in Florence he made a new edition of Mascagni's Le maschere, which he also conducted. In 1957 he conducted Rossini's Turco in Italia at Edinburgh and La Boheme at Chicago, and in 1965, Anna Bolena at Glyndebourne, with Gencer in the title-role.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s he continued to work as hard as ever - Simon Boccanegra at Trieste, Rossini's Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra in Palermo with Gencer, La Cenerentola in Geneva with Teresa Berganza; La Favorite in Turin with Luciano Pavarotti; Faust and Aida at the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires. In 1992 at Ravenna he conducted Donizetti's Poliuto with the same passion that he had brought to the music of his fellow citizen 20 or 30 years previously.

Gavazzeni made many studio recordings, but he is best represented by his live recordings, such as Un ballo in maschera, with Callas and Giuseppe di Stefano, from La Scala (1957), in which the full scope of his magisterial command of a performance can be appreciated. He wrote studies of Bellini, Donizetti, Mascagni, Mussorgsky, Jancek and Pizzetti, and published several volumes of music criticism.

Elizabeth Forbes

Gianandrea Gavazzeni, composer and conductor: born Bergamo 25 July 1909; Artistic Director, La Scala 1965-68; married twice (two sons); died Bergamo 5 February 1996.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor