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Giuseppe Anelli

(XIX century)
skilful guitarist-composer and singer

Giuseppe (Joseph) Anelli is a musical figure of the early 1800's who is as yet virtually unknown. He was a skilled guitarist-composer and singer, whose place and date of birth are uncertain; presumably he was born at the end of the Seventeenth Century. He distinguished himself as a performer in Turin as early as 1809, giving there a very successful concert at the Suterra Theater, an event which made him popular throughout the city. His compositions for guitar were published by the Reycend firm. So Anelli probably had his earliest musical training in Turin and in the Piedmont, though there are no other clues as to his birth place.

Nor do we have any confirmation about his hypothetical study at the Conservatory of Naples. In the years of his stay in Turin and in northern Italy, Anelli was employed in the service of the Princess Paolina Borghese, Napoleon's sister. He enjoyed her valuable protection for some time and could therefore perform recitals in important academies, during which he often performed as a vocal soloist to his own guitar accompaniment.

At the end of 1813 Anelli left Italy to stay in Paris for a brief period. There he came to know Fernando Sor and became his rival in guitar concerts. He was judged by the Parisian musical critics the better performer of the two for his musical qualities and instrumental virtuosity. Here he played for the public his two Concerti for guitar and orchestra, which today are presumably lost.

In 1815, Anelli moved to London, though he continued to visit Italy. After a brief stay in the capital city, he decided to settle in Clifton west of London [on the southwest coast of England, near Bristol] around 1817, under the protection of the Count of Westmoreland and of Lord Burghersh. Despite the growth of his fame, Anelli chose to stay in the provinces, moving in the 1820's to Bath, again west of London. This move proved crucial for his artistic future.

A few years afterward, he resettled in Clifton, after numerous short stays in neighboring centers to enlarge his musical activity. In this period he presented a series of lectures on the "Science of the Voice." He attempted to illustrate, with partial success, the advantages of accompanying the voice with the guitar in several favorite opera arias. In this respect his concert "The Citharodian" had notable effect. It was presented in Clifton, November 27, 1827, at the Royal Gloucester Rooms. The program consisted of music for voice and guitar only, employing all the ways of using the guitar as the best instrument to accompany the voice, with appreciable success.

He transcribed parts of Rossini's Barber of Seville for voices and guitar, as well as a composition for guitar solo entitled "The Triumph of the guitar", based on a theme from Bellini's "Norma."

His having spent so much of his time on such musical experiments had the unexpected result of reducing Anelli's popularity in the following years; he became known more as a skilled singer, rather than a serious guitar performer. After this time information on his activity becomes scarce.

From 1843 to 1848 he performed continuously in England. He settled in Cheltenham and played there in several benefit concerts, accompanied at the piano by his son Federico. He appeared in Edinburgh, perhaps his only visit there, playing in a concert at the Hopetown Rooms to good reviews. From 1848 we have no more trace of his musical presence in England nor elsewhere.

He excluded London from his field of action, where instead Sor and Regondi were famous, and preferred other places that never became major centers of the musical life of the country. By so doing, Anelli lost his great historical role in the guitaristic panorama and was inevitably overshadowed.

Today very little of his guitar works are extant, but we believe that beyond the two guitar concerti mentioned above, Anelli is the author of about 300 songs with guitar, many of which still lie in the British Library in London; various sonatas for flute and guitar; two duets for two guitars and some duets for violin and guitar, published by Thomas Howell (Bristol) in 1828; and more than 30 various compositions for guitar solo, among which are sonatinas and themes with variations and many trios and quartets with guitar. His Method for guitar is also very important, as is his "History of the guitar", published by Somerton (Bristol).

(Transl. M. Penny)

Printed Guitar Works of Giuseppe Anelli

  1. ARIA "Non dormo un'ora al g.no" (voice and guitar)

    Non dormo un'ora al giorno / Musique de Bigatti / accompagnement de guitare par / Joseph Anelli, Reycend, Torino, ~ 1810
    Fonte: Biblioteca Privata Dell'Ara Moncalieri

  2. ARIA "Grazie o pietosi Dei" (voice and guitar)

    Grazie o pietosi Dei / musique de Nicolini chantée par M.r Velluti / accompag.t de guitare par J. / Anelli, Reycend, Torino, ~ 1812
    Fonte: Biblioteca Privata Dell'Ara Moncalieri

  3. CAVATINA "Child of heart with the golden hair" (voice and guitar)

    Child of heart with the golden hair / Cavatina / singing...by / Mr.Wood / and / composed by C.E.Horn / arranged with accomp. of spanish guitar / by / Joseph Anelli Welsh, London, 1835
    Fonte: Biblioteca Privata Dell'Ara Moncalieri

  4. TWO CAVATINE (voice and guitar)

    Vado in traccia del mio bene / Povero cor tu palpiti / Due Cavatine del Signor Maestro Pavesi / ridotte per chitarra da Anelli, Reycend, Torino, 1810
    Fonte: Biblioteca Privata Dell'Ara Moncalieri

  5. TWO SONATINE (guitar)

    Deux / Sonatines / pour Lyre ou Guitare / composés par / Joseph Anelli, Reycend, Torino, c.1809
    Fonte: Biblioteca Conservatorio Torino

  6. GUITAR METHOD, s.d.

    Somerton, Bristol, no date
    Source: Biblioteca Conservatorio Napoli

  7. THREE CAVATINE from cantata composed by Maestro Stefano Pavesi (voice and guitar)

    Tre cavatine / estratte dalla cantata eseguita / al Teatro Imperiale di Torino / per festeggiare il giorno onomastico / di S.A.I. la Principessa Paolina / Duchessa di Guastalla / composta dal Maestro Stefano Pavesi / ridotta... / da Giuseppe Anelli, Reycend, Torino, 1812
    Source: Biblioteca Privata Dell'Ara Moncalieri

  8. VARIATIONS "Triumph of the Guitar, from Bellini's opera of Norma" (guitar)

    Il Trionfo della chitarra / Thema / Deh con te / from / Bellini's opera of Norma / composed / and respectfully dedicated to / the Non.le George Fane / by / Joseph Anelli, Welsh, London, 1837
    Source: Biblioteca Privata Dell'Ara Moncalieri

  9. VARIAZIONI (flute and guitar)

    Tema avec Variations / pour flutes et guitare / composé et dedié / a Monsieur Mazas / membre de la Legion d'Honeur / Capitaine de la Garde Imperiale / ... / par / Joseph Anelli, Reycend, Torino, c.1809
    Source: Biblioteca Conservatorio Napoli

Bibliographic Notes