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date: 01 October 2023

Masini, Francescofree

Masini, Francescofree

  • Biancamaria Brumana

(b Florence, 16 July 1804; d Paris, 20 Aug 1863). Italian composer and singing teacher. He settled in Paris about 1830, the year when Antonio Pacini published a collection of six romances dedicated to Maria Malibran. Known as the ‘Bellini of the romance’, Masini wrote over 400 works in this genre intended for the high Parisian society of the July Monarchy. His works were often collected in luxurious albums offered as a gift on the first day of the year. Among Masini’s favourite poets to set to music are Émile Barateau, Amable Tastu, and Laure Jourdain; only a single Masini romance is based on a text by Victor Hugo (Le papillon et la fleur). The success of his romances (published mainly by Latte, Meissonier, and Colombier) was enhanced by the collaboration with famous illustrators such as Jules David and Achille Devéria. The latter provided lithographic illustrations for the editions’ frontispieces, conceived in harmony with the texts and musical settings. Masini’s melodies are elegant, transparent, and light-hearted. They give voice to a Romanticism tinged with melancholy and delicate hues (as one can appreciate in Un rêve d’amour, Que la mer est belle, Sur mon rocher, Pauvre étoile fidèle, or L’orpheline), a mood that at times is brightened by the liveliness of a ballroom or elements of the characteristic and couleur locale (Avant le bal, Une chanson bretonne). The romances are divided into three or four stanzas with a refrain sung to the same music. The piano accompaniment is carefully devised and of great musical interest.

Translated by Fabio Morabito


  • B. Brumana: ‘Gli albums de romances illustrati di Francesco Masini e la sua collaborazione con Jules David nel 1842’, Imago musicae, vol.26 (2013), 99–135
  • B. Brumana: ‘Contributi sulla vita e sull’opera di Francesco Masini’, ‘Le romances di Francesco Masini illustrate da Achille Devéria’, ‘Le romances per voce e pianoforte di Francesco Masini: un catalogo’, Musica e immagine nelle romanze del XIX secolo: Francesco Masini e Ciro Pinsuti tra Parigi e Londra (Torrita di Siena, 2014), 11–38, 39–124, 125–63
  • H. Macfarlane: Il faut savoir l’Italien pour déchiffrer une romance française: Italian Presence in the French Romance 1800–1850 (diss., U. of Southampton, 2015)