Cremona 1864-1873

  • The Glory of a Bandmaster

    The Glory of a Bandmaster

Cremona 1864-1873


Cremona had a serious problem in its local band, so bad that the members of the band had petitioned for the dismissal of Ponchielli's friend, Bartolo Piatti, as capobanda in March of 1864. In spite of the political nicety of the formal letter to Piacenza, Ponchielli must have known what was going on from Piatti. Though a well-to-do furrier, Piatti was an accomplished flutist and assisted in the Cremona band from time to time. The situation was grave enough that no competition was held for the position of Maestro that Ponchielli assumed in September of that year. No actual documentation of the strife after Ponchielli's arrival survives; however, in the last page of a score (copied by vicemaestroJohannes Haagen) is a list of names of various musicians, principally from the band in Piacenza. As that band had ceased functioning, Ponchielli notes hometowns as well. There's no date on the score, but Ponchielli knows that he will be facing difficult times ahead. By the autumn of 1865, the entire band was dismissed and auditions for a new band were announced.

"Through a glass darkly" perfectly describes our present knowledge of these months. One existing document is an official record of auditions carried out for the new band. The comments reveal as much as they conceal, and several prominent members of the new band are not to be found in the pages of these documents. The most prominent of these is flugelhorn soloist, Achille Bissocoli, who will supplant Johannes Haagen as the vicemaestro. Bissocoli's identity was so well hidden in 1865 that his appearance on the roll of the new band must have been a shock. Only recently, has the audition sheet for Bissocoli been found, having taken place in October, 1865, predating the official auditions in January, 1866. Three members of the Piacenza band - Franchini, Belforti, and Zavarroni - had no official documents whatsoever. One member of the "old" Cremona band also had no audition document: solo trumpeter, Giuseppe Cesura.


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