Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1726-1770 - Holles Street (Westminster)

Antiquarian Carlo Gambarini was born in Lucca (date not known) into a noble family. Few details are known about his life or background. He was in London by 1726 when a catalogue was published advertising the sale of Mr Gambarini’s entire collection’. In 1731 he published A Description of the Earl of Pembroke’s Pictures (1731). The family had settled in Holles Street, Marylebone, where on 7 September 1730 his daughter Elisabetta [Elizabeth] was born. She would make a musical career. Having started as a singer in the mid-1740s in Handel’s oratorio productions, she proceeded as a soloist singer and keyboard player. In 1748 she issued her first two volumes of music. The imaginative Six Sets of Lessons for the Harpsichord was the first collection of keyboard music to be published in England by a female composer.

Its success prompted the production of the second volume later in the year. As a frontispiece to Lessons for the Harpsichord Intermix’d with Italian and English Songs there is an engraving of Gambarini by Nathaniel Hone, showing her sitting at a desk composing. She issued her final publication, XII English & Italian Songs, in 1750. After this there is little indication of public musical activity until 1760/1, when she gave a number of concerts, appearing as composer, harpsichordist, and singer. On 20 March 1764 Elizabeth married Étienne Chazal (of whom nothing is known). She died at her home in Castle Court, Strand, in February 1765 (possibly in childbirth). In March 1770 Christie’s sold - for the benefit of an infant’ (presumably Elizabeth’s daughter) - the pictures of the late Charles Gambarini, Librarian and Antiquarian to the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel’ (Lugt 1819).

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