Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1714-1772 - Haymarket (Westminster)

Flautist and composer Francesco Barsanti was born in Lucca in 1690. Little is known about his background. He studied law in Padua, but abandoned it to pursue a career in music. In 1714 Barsanti moved to London with Francesco Geminiani, another musician from Lucca who was several years his senior. He played oboe and recorder, and soon obtained a post in the opera orchestra at the Haymarket where Handel’s operas were being produced.

He left London for Edinburgh in 1735 where he obtained a post as a Master’ with the Edinburgh Musical Society. He returned to London some time after 1743 with his Scottish wife and their daughter, the actress Jenny Barsanti. Having lost his place in London’s musical society, he was obliged to take a post as a poorly paid violist in Handel’s opera orchestra. He died in May 1772. Barsanti is known today for a set of Six Solo Sonatas for Alto Recorder and for his arrangement of twenty-eight Scots airs in A Collection of Old Scots Tunes. His Nine Overtures (around 1730) include works in the French, German, and Italian styles.

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