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Luigi Arditi

July 16, 1822 - May 1, 1903
born in Crescentino, Piedmont, composed during the Romantic period
Luigi Arditi was an important composer and conductor from the latter half of the nineteenth century. As a composer, he was best known for his songs and Italian operas, while as a conductor he scored his greatest successes in England and the United States. He was a contemporary of Verdi, but cannot rank alongside that master. His operas, orchestral works, and songs are tuneful and well crafted, even if they are not always memorable.

From a very early age, Arditi exhibited a keen interest in music and at age seven, asked his parents for a violin. He quickly became proficient on the instrument, but also developed an interest in composition. He enrolled at the Milan Conservatory in his mid-teens and studied violin with Bernardo Ferrara and composition with Nicola Vaccai. Some of his earliest works date to his student years and include an overture for orchestra (1840) and his first opera, I Briganti (1841), which was premiered at the conservatory. In 1842, he began playing professionally as a violinist and occasionally conducted orchestras in Milan and the surrounding area. Arditi was not a virtuoso, but his performances were generally well received. For two years (1844 - 1846), he led the Teatro Ré orchestra in Milan at the invitation of Vaccai. In 1847, he toured with composer Giovanni Bottesini, who was an excellent double bass player. The two gave numerous concerts together -- Arditi as violinist and Bottesini as double bass player -- and developed a lifelong friendship. While in Havana with Bottesini, Arditi did some conducting at the Teatro Imperial. The two went on to concertize in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and in many other American cities in the period 1847 - 1849. After 1849, Arditi began to turn more to conducting, but also remained busy composing. He appeared in Canada and the U.S. from 1853 - 1856 leading various orchestras. His opera La spia was premiered in New York in 1856 with some success. In 1858, Arditi was appointed conductor at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. Two years later, he composed what is probably his most frequently performed song -- actually a vocal waltz -- Il Bacio, the one effort of his to appear on numerous recordings by some of the world's most famous singers. In the realm of composition, he now focused less on opera and more on small-scale orchestral works and songs. Arditi often toured with Her Majesty's Theatre over his 11-year tenure with the group and generally received high praise from both critics and public alike. He led Covent Garden for one season (1869 - 1870) and spent two separate seasons at the St. Petersburg Italian Opera in the early 1870s. He also conducted numerous times in Vienna and at Covent Garden during this period. In 1878, he began a relationship with Mapleson's Company, a then-prominent English operatic company. Arditi typically led performances when the company was on tour in the U.S. After departing Mapleson's in 1894, he toured with the Carl Rosa company for the 1894 - 1895 season and also freelanced throughout London. ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi
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