Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1794-1846 - Leicester Square (Westminster)

Composer and double bass player Domenico Dragonetti was born on 7 April 1763 in Venice. There he studied with Michele Berini and joined the orchestra of St Mark’s in September 1787. His fame spread quickly. In the autumn of 1794, Dragonetti arrived in London where he became friends with composer-publisher and fellow Italian Vincent Novello. He soon was a prominent figure in the musical events of the English capital, although he never did learn to speak proper English.

Novello was instrumental in Dragonetti’s success in Britain. Combining employment at the King’s Theatre with the Concerts of Ancient Music and private performances, he was a dominating figure in the musical world. Later he added the Philharmonic Society and the classical concerts of Nicolas Mori and Robert Lindley to this list. His income was supplemented by teaching and dealing in fine art and musical instruments. He regularly travelled outside Britain, encountering Beethoven in Vienna in 1799. Dragonetti was a prolific composer. The British Library holds a collection of eighteen volumes of manuscripts, including concertos, quintets, operatic arias, and multi-movement pieces for double bass and piano. He died at his home at no. 4 Leicester Square in April 1846.

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