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date: 14 November 2019

Elli, Gaetano locked

  • Laurence Libin


(b Paderno, Italy, 1740; d Milan, Italy, July 13, 1809). Italian politician and piano maker. Already known as a superior craftsman, he moved from Brianza to Milan, where he was elected in 1786 to the Società Patriotica, an elite group of intellectuals, scientists, and engineers; in 1794 he was tasked with restoring the society’s collection of mechanical devices. In 1785 he had built a grand piano equipped with a music desk with automatic page-turner; earlier, Duke Gian Galeazzo Serbelloni had commissioned from him an enharmonic cembalo. In 1795 he was noted as a maker of violicembali (bowed keyboard instruments), and he is supposed to have designed a mechanism that would notate keyboard music as it was being played. His eight known extant pianos, all squares dating from 1786 to 1801, are signed ‘Fratelli Elli’, pointing to his partnership with his brother Pietro Francesco, an organ builder. Nearly all the extant pianos have a ...

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Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society