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date: 17 May 2021

Ponchielli, Amilcarelocked

  • Julian Budden,
  • Fedele D’Amico
  •  and Licia Sirch


(b Paderno Fasolaro [now Paderno Ponchielli], Aug 31, 1834; d Milan, Jan 16, 1886). Italian bandmaster, orchestra conductor, and professor of composition. He was the most important opera composer (Verdi apart) between the mid-19th century and the advent of the so-called ‘Giovane Scuola’.

The son of a shopkeeper who was organist in the village church, he studied music first with his father and then with the organist of a neighbouring village. In 1843 a wealthy benefactor, Giovanni Battista Jacini, helped him to obtain a free place at the Milan Conservatory, where his teachers included Pietro Ray (theory), Arturo Angeleri (piano), Felice Frasi (composition to 1851), and Alberto Mazzucato (music history and aesthetics, and composition from 1851). He attended the Milan Conservatory for ten years (1844–54), which deeply influenced his conception of music, the work of a composer, and, consequently, his entire career. This period was crucial for the Milan Conservatory, then Italy’s most important school of music, as well as for Italy itself: these were the years of the Risorgimento, the Italian nationalistic movement culminating in the independence of Italy as a free and united nation. The works composed for his examinations show that his music education was based upon theories and aesthetics, compositional methods and techniques, styles, and literary materials and ethical principles based on the great Italian tradition of the Opera Theatre, which, at that moment and in that context, represented the idealization of an Italian national music ...

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Cambridge (MA), Harvard University, Harvard College Library
Gazzetta musicale di Milano
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
Milan, Biblioteca della Casa Ricordi
Palo Alto (CA), University, Memorial Library of Music, Department of Special Collections of the Cecil H. Green Library
Milan, Biblioteca Teatrale Livia Simoni
Bergamo, Civico Istituto Musicale Gaetano Donizetti, Biblioteca