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date: 27 January 2020

Sebastiani, Ferdinandofree

  • Gregorio Maria Paone

(b Capua, nr Naples, 1803; d Naples, 1860). Neapolitan clarinettist and composer. Ferdinando Sebastiani studied clarinet with Michele Rupp and composition with Fedele Fenaroli at the Real Collegio di Musica di San Sebastiano in Naples, where he eventually became a clarinet teacher himself. He also became principal clarinet of the Orchestra of Teatro San Carlo and of the Reale Cappella Palatina in Naples. As well as his orchestral activity he worked as a soloist and played in Paris, Florence, Vienna, and Naples. He wrote a huge number of pieces, which indicates how at that time even instrumentalists were keen on music composition.

Sebastiani used a particular clarinet made by the Neapolitan instrument maker Gennaro Bosa. A variant of the standard Müller clarinet, the Bosa clarinet required the use of the right thumb in order to make some passages easier, while in the Müller system of fingering the right thumb usually serves only to sustain the instrument.

The most important work by Sebastiani is his Metodo per clarinetto, in which he explains his views on playing clarinet. Its most significant aspect is the promotion of the reed-above embouchure, which Sebastiani considered superior to the now commonly used reed-below embouchure. Sebastiani allotted a lot of space for explanations in his book, at a time when other method books were merely a series of exercises. He deals with basic music theory, embouchure, fingerings, articulation, style of performance, and even psychology. He also demonstrates his Bosa clarinet, explaining how to play it and illustrating the differences between it and the Müller system. Sebastiani, however, was also a teacher of the Müller clarinet, it being the most common type.


Canto religioso, cl, pf

Fantasia, pf, cl/vn

Fantasia sull’opera Semiramide, pf, cl

Fantasia sulla Sonnambula di Bellini, pf, cl

Scherzo sopra la Traviata di Verdi, pf, cl

Scherzo sul Trovatore di Verdi, pf, cl

Polacca, pf, cl

Un piccolo fiore, pf, cl

[3] Concs., cl, orch

Adagio e Polonese, cl, orch

Variazioni sul Pirata di Bellini, cl, orch

Divertimento Rossiniano, cl, orch

Introduzione e Allegro assai—Largo, cl, str orch

Polacca, cl, orch

Allegro, c, orch

Fantasia Belliniana, orch

Sinfonico concerto del Guglielmo Tell, orch

Rossiniana, Fantasia, orch

Fantasie Turche, vn, orch

Metodo per clarinetto, cl

La Gazza Ladra di Rossini, 9 pieces, [2] cl, fl, fag

Cavatina dall’opera La Gazza Ladra, [2] cl, fl, cb

Metodo per clarinetto, cl

works unpublished; MSS in Library of Conservatorio “San Pietro” a Majella, Naples


  • F. Sebastiani: Metodo per clarinetto di Ferdinando Sebastiani, primo clarinetto assoluto del R. Teatro S. Carlo di Napoli, Maestro del R. Collegio di Musica, primo Clarinetto della R. cappella Palatina, e Socio di diverse Filarmoniche (Naples, 1855).
  • G.M. Paone: Ferdinando Sebastiani nel contesto musicale dell’Ottocento (Rome, 2018)

See also Clarinet