A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Piatti, Alfredo

2007189A Dictionary of Music and Musicians — Piatti, AlfredoThomas Percy Hudson

PIATTI, Alfredo, violoncellist, was born at Bergamo Jan. 1822 [App. p.749 "Jan. 8"]. His father was first violin in the orchestra and 'chapel' of that town (not a singer as stated by Fétis). In his earliest youth Piatti had the advantage of the instruction of his grand uncle Zanetti, an excellent musician and performer; and he began playing in the orchestra at the age of seven. On Zanetti's death he was accepted at the Milan Conservatoire in 1832, studied under Merighi, and made his public appearance as a solo performer in 1837.

In 1844 Piatti came to England, where he has since resided during the musical season. He made his first appearance at a concert of the Philharmonic Society on June 24, 1844, in a concertino by Kummer, his performance of which at once established his claim to be ranked as an artist of extraordinary excellence.

It is of interest to mention that at this same concert Mendelssohn played Beethoven's PF. Concerto in G immediately before Piatti appeared; in spite of which the young violoncellist obtained an unqualified success. Mendelssohn played with him several times in private during this visit, and is said to have completed the first movement of a concerto for violoncello and orchestra for him. The MS. however, has not been found. [See Mendelssohn, ii. 285 a.] The instrument[1] (Nicolas Amati) he then used had been presented to him by Liszt. The 'Times' thus spoke of his first appearance. 'Piatti is a masterly player on the violoncello. In tone, which foreign artists generally want, he is equal to Lindley in his best days; his execution is rapid, diversified, and certain, and a false note never by any chance is to be heard.'

This criticism has been more than justified by Piatti's career, so well known to the musical world of England, and it is not too much to say that he has a reputation surpassed by that of no other musical artist. With an absolute command over all the technical difficulties of his instrument Piatti combines a faultless intonation and a rare purity of tone which, without any apparent exertion, never fails to sufficiently assert itself in the most delicate passages, while the exquisite taste with which he 'phrases' invests the simplest melody with infinite charm. Ever since their commencement in 1859 he has held the post of violoncellist at the well-known Monday and Saturday Popular Concerts, and has perhaps contributed as much as any artist to their deserved success.

Signor Piatti is also a composer of no mean merit. A concertino and two concertos for violoncello with orchestra, and also some graceful songs with violoncello obbligato, are among his most important original works. He has also done good service in arranging and bringing into notice many forgotten sonatas by Veracini, Valentini, Locatelli, Boccherini, and other writersfor stringed instruments of the 18th century.

  1. Now in the possession of the writer of this notice.