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Article

Marija Đurić Speare

(b ?Venice, ?Nov 1680; d London,Jan 14, 1783). Italian cellist and composer. He was of Sephardi Jewish origin. Nothing is known about his life in Italy, though Burney referred to him as a Venetian. He arrived in England probably in early 1738, when he became a member of the Royal Society of Musicians: he was an important member of a group of London-based Italians who brought the solo cello into favour in England. Although his playing was technically brilliant, his tone, according to Burney, was ‘raw, crude and uninteresting’. The first reliable record of his playing is of a concerto at Drury Lane (22 November 1742); he continued to play there regularly until about 1774/5. According to his son James's obituary, Cervetto ‘led the band’ there. He played in numerous subscription concerts at Hickford's Room, the Great Room, the King's Theatre and the New Theatre in the Haymarket. He also played in the orchestra at Vauxhall and took part in private concerts, for example in the Burney household. At some point in the early 1760s Cervetto seems to have relinquished his solo career in order to make way for his son, also a cellist. Marsh recorded Cervetto's presence at a concert at the Salisbury Festival in ...

Article

(b La Côte-Saint-André, Aug 29, 1737; d Paris, July 24, 1794). French scholar. After his studies at the seminary in Vienne and his ordination, Du Contant settled in Paris, where he took his doctorate at the Sorbonne in 1765. He was vicar-general of Vienne in 1789, when he had to abandon his post during the Revolutionary disturbances. He fled to Paris and went into hiding, but was discovered, imprisoned and guillotined. A specialist in Hebrew studies, he left a Traité sur poésie et la musique des hébreux, pour servir d'introduction aux pseaumes expliqués (Paris, 1781) which later appeared in Italian as Trattato sopra la poesia e la musica degli ebrei (Venice, 1788). The treatise, although synthesizing the studies of Jewish music made since the time of Mersenne, Calmet and Lamy, is nonetheless experimental. Du Contant was influenced by the theories of Roussier (Mémoire sur la musique des anciens...

Article

Winton Dean

(b c1741; d after 1779).?English mezzo-soprano and harpsichordist. She may have been the daughter of a Mrs Frederica who sang in the pasticcio opera L’incostanza delusa at the New Theatre in the Haymarket early in 1745. Cassandra was an infant prodigy as a harpsichordist; she played Handel keyboard concertos for her own benefit at the New Haymarket on 10 April 1749 at the reputed age of five and a half, and at Hickford’s Room on 29 April 1750. She and her mother gave two concerts at Amsterdam in July 1750. She studied singing under Paradies, and was engaged by Handel for his oratorio season of 1758, when she appeared in revivals of The Triumph of Time and Truth (Deceit), Belshazzar (Daniel), Jephtha (Storgè), Judas Maccabaeus (Israelite Man) and Messiah. On the last day of 1757 Lord Shaftesbury wrote that Handel ‘has just finished the composing of several new songs for Frederica his new singer, from whom he has great expectations’. These were the five additional songs (adapted from opera arias) first sung in ...

Article

Winton Dean

(b ?Cremona, c1723; d Chelsea, Dec 23, 1804). Italian mezzo-soprano. After singing in Bergamo in 1742, she was engaged for the 1742–3 Italian opera season in London, appearing at the King’s Theatre in Brivio’s Mandane, Galuppi’s Enrico and Sirbace and Porpora’s Temistocle (she took male parts in all four operas). In 1745 she was in a pasticcio, L’incostanza delusa, at the New Haymarket Theatre, but she made her name in Handel’s Covent Garden oratorio seasons from 1747 to 1754. She appeared first in revivals of the Occasional Oratorio and Joseph. On 1 April, 1747 she sang the Israelite Man and Second Israelite Woman at the première of Judas Maccabaeus and made such a hit in the air ‘’Tis liberty alone’ that, according to Burney, ‘she was not only encored in it every night, but became an important personage, among singers, for a considerable time afterwards’. Handel composed parts for her in ...

Article

Michael Dubiaga Jr

(Antonio)

(b Verona, Dec 30, 1741; d Verona, Jan 4, 1809). Italian composer and singer. He entered the choir school at Verona Cathedral in March 1755 where, in addition to the academic curriculum, he studied plainsong and counterpoint under the maestro di cappella Daniel dal Barba. After his ordination he joined the chapter choir as cappellano and from 1775 was a bass in the cathedral choir. In addition to clerical duties at a local church, he probably served as apprentice to Dal Barba. In December 1779 Giacometti assumed full teaching responsibilities at the choir school and was accorded rights of succession to the cathedral position on Dal Barba’s death. From 1789 he was the leading composer at the cathedral, where he continued in service until the end of his life.

Of special interest among Giacometti’s compositions are an expressive Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel and the virtuoso lectiones for Holy Week in which simple recitative sections alternate with florid solo passages. A small instrumental complement of two violas and violone is often used in his choral music; full orchestral ensembles were used only in pontifical celebrations. A facile declamatory style with little melodic inventiveness prevails in many works, especially his responsories, but occasionally contrasts of key and metre create striking effects. Giacometti’s compositions retained popularity into the 19th century; in Spagnolo’s opinion he ‘was justly considered the most skilful composer of his time’....

Article

Stanley Sadie

revised by Susan Wollenberg

(b ? c1740; d Oxford, Nov 21, 1777). English composer and violinist. He was a son of David Francisco Lates, a Hebrew scholar who taught modern languages at Oxford University. According to Sainsbury, he studied in Italy and is described by Lewis as ‘the first Oxford Jewish composer’. The local newspaper reported his marriage on 29 October 1768 to Miss Joanna Day, ‘a Lady of exceeding good Accomplishments, with a very handsome Fortune’. He played in the Holywell Music Room orchestra, probably as principal second violin, and in other concerts in the vicinity of Oxford (including Henley and Banbury) from the late 1750s until his death, and was connected with the Duke of Marlborough’s musical establishment at Blenheim. An early appearance in 1757 at a benefit concert and ball for Miss Lates (probably a sister) in Abingdon featured ‘Master Lates’ playing first violin and a solo; by 1761...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(d Kensington, London, bur. Aug 28, 1784). English soprano, actress and dancer. The daughter of a Jewish merchant (or tavern keeper) she made her début as Polly in The Beggar’s Opera at the newly opened Covent Garden Theatre in December 1732, with a run of 20 nights in succession. She played Deidamia in Gay’s posthumous ...