Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1702-1705 - Strand (Covent Garden)

Virtuoso violinist and composer Gasparo Visconti was born in Cremona in January 1683 into a noble family. Details of his life and career are sketchy. He was a dilettante who pursued a musical career purely for its artistic delights. He had been, according to his own testimony, a pupil of Arcangelo Corelli for five years. He resided in London from 1702 to 1705, where he regularly performed as a solo violinist or together with his friend, the French flautist Jacques Paisible. His sonatas for violin and flute were widely appreciated in England. His compositions were published by John Walsh, established just off the Strand.

In 1704 Visconti married Christina Steffkin, a member of a celebrated family of London musicians. To celebrate the marriage, Visconti commissioned a cello from Antonio Stradivari inscribed with her name. Visconti’s whereabouts after 1705 are uncertain, though it is clear that he had returned to his native city by 1713, the year his daughter was born. He was the teacher of violinist Carlo Zuccari which indicates that he continued to be active in Cremona during the late 1710s and early 1720s.

The date of his death is not known. The Visconti violin had been seen and studied by Daniel Parker. Although little is known about him, he was the first English instrument maker to realise the qualities of Cremonese violins. Parker’s own instruments date from the first decade of the eighteenth century and were firmly rooted in Stradivari’s work. They revolutionised violin making in Britian.

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