Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1728-1783 - Charles Street (Covent Garden)

Cellist Giacobbe Cervetto was born Giacobbe Basevi in Verona in 1690 (not 1682 as is often suggested) of Jewish parents. He adopted the name Cervetto before he settled in London in the harsh winter of 1739/40. Previously, he had made several visits to London as an instrument dealer, and it is said that he bought instruments from Stradivari. He is first reliably recorded performing in a concerto at Drury Lane on 22 November 1742, and from then until about 1775 performed there regularly. He was well acquainted with the family of Charles Burney. Cervetto was among the first musicians to popularise the cello in England. Cervetto lived at no. 7 Charles Street, Covent Garden, and was a constant frequenter of the Orange Coffee House at the Haymarket which, as reported at the time, was chiefly used by opera dancers and castratas’. Cervetto was reputed to have been performing every summer at Vauxhall until very late in life. He was familiarly known as Nosey’ or Old Nosey’. His portrait by Johann Zoffany shows that the epithet was not entirely unearned. There is also a rather crude colour print captioned simply Nosee’ that was published on 1 January 1774 by the firm of Matthias Darly in the Strand. Cervetto died in London in January 1783.

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