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Filippo Gragnani

(1768-1820)
A virtuoso from Livorno to Paris

Filippo Gragnani was a guitarist-composer born in Livorno on September 3th, 1768, to a family of musicians and lute-makers. Little is known about his life and activity as a concert performer. In his home city he studied harmony and counterpoint with Giulio Maria Lucchesi, devoting himself at the same time to the guitar, which soon became his main focus; he quickly achieved success as a virtuoso performer.
His first experience as a composer for the guitar was probably in Italy, where, in the first years of the 1800's, he published some works for guitar and chamber music with the publishers Ricordi and Monzino of Milan.

After some stays in Germany, Gragnani settled in Paris at the end of 1810. Here he published his most important works and became friends with Ferdinando Carulli. The two men worked together frequently. Gagnani was also the dedicatee of some of Carulli's works, such as the Duets for two guitars.

Information about Gragnani ceases by 1812. This year was therefore considered by some scholars as being his date of death, but this was never verified, nor was the assumption that Gragnani had died in Paris.

The finding of the "Annotazione" (note) about Filippo Gragnani's death in the "Registro dei Morti" (Register of Deaths) of the Church of St. Martino di Salviano in Livorno rectifies this date to 1820. The register from 1809 to 1874, dated 29 July 1820 (p. 80), reports in fact the following note:

Filippo del fu Antonio Gragnani e della fu
Anna M.a Bianchi di an. 59 morì ieri alle ore 7 del matt.o
munito dei SS.Sacr.i. e della raccomandazione dell'anima,
oggi fu associato a q.ta Chiesa, e sepolto in q.to Cimitero


[Filippo, son of the late Antonio Gragnani and the late Anna Maria Bianchi, 59 years old, died yesterday at 7 a.m., fortified by the last sacraments; today the remains were consecrated at this church and were buried in this churchyard]
[Source: Archivio Diocesano di Livorno]

As regards his compositions, which have not been sufficiently researched, only twenty works are known, of which fifteen have opus numbers; several are chamber music. Gragnani's style has a lively and freshly inventive melodic line; however it is always framed in formal structures of rare equilibrium and solidity, which elevates his music among that of the most important composers for guitar of his epoch. In a general overview of his works, these compositions deserve mention: the "Duets," Op.8, for violin and guitar; the "Trio" for three guitars, Op. 12; and the "Trio" for flute, violin and guitar, Op. 13. For solo guitar, these works stand out: the "Fantasie," Op. 5 and the "Sonata sentimentale," Op. 15. Many works by Gragnani, some of which were probably never published, lie today in manuscript in several Italian libraries.

(Transl. M. Penny)

Catalogue of printed works by Filippo Gragnani

Title opus no. Ensemble Editor Year
TRE SONATE - chitarra sola Monzino ~1807
TRE DUETTI - violino & chitarra Monzino ~1808
SINFONIA - chitarra sola Ricordi ~1808
SONATA SENTIMENTALE - chitarra sola Ricordi ~1809
TRE DIVERTIMENTI - chitarra sola Ricordi ~1809
TRE DUETTI - violino & chitarra Ricordi ~1810
TROIS DUOS 1 due chitarre Carli ~1810
TROIS DUOS 2 due chitarre Carli ~1810
TROIS DUOS 3 due chitarre Carulli/Lelu ~1810
TROIS DUOS 4 2 chitarre Carli ~1811
FANTASIA 5 chitarra sola Carli ~1812
TRE SONATINE E UN TEMA CON VARIAZIONI 6 chitarra sola Gombart ~1808
TROIS DUOS 6 2 chitarre Carli ~1812
TROIS DUOS 7 2 chitarre Carli ~1812
TRE DUI 8 violino & chitarra Gombart ~1808
QUARTETTO 8 vl.cl.2 ch., Carli ~1812
SESTETTO 8 fl.cl.vl.2 ch.vc. Carli ~1812
VARIAZIONI 10 chitarra sola Carli ~1812
TROIS EXERCICES 11 chitarra sola Carli ~1813
TRIO 12 3 chitarre Richault ~1825
TRIO 13 fl.vl.ch. Richault ~1825
TROIS DUOS 14 2 chitarre ? ?
SONATA SENTIMENTALE 15 chitarra sola Carli ~1813

 

Altre composizioni a stampa
Other printed works

Titolo/Title opus no. Organico/Ensemble Editore/Editor Anno/Year
DUO - chitarra & pianoforte Meissonnier ?
GUITARENSPIEL - chitarra sola Heckel ?
TRE DUI 8 clarin. & chitarra Gilardi ~1820
DIVERTIMENTI 15 chitarra sola ? ?

 

Handwritten works
Composizioni manoscritte

Titolo/Title Organico/Ensemble Sede/Seat Fondo/Fund
METODO chitarra sola Bibl. Conservatorio - Milano Noseda
TRIO 2 viol. & chit. Archivio di Stato - Verona Malaspina
QUARTETTO fl. vl. 2 chit. Bibl. Casanatese - Roma Marefoschi
PREGHIERA... canto & chitarra Bibl. Conservatorio - Genova -
DUETTO 2 violino & chitarra Bibl.Mozzi-Borgetti Macerata Palmieri
TRE DUETTI violino & chitarra Bibl. Conservatorio - Pesaro -
TRE DUETTI 2 chitarre Bibl. Estense - Modena -

 

Other handwritteen compositions

Title Ensemble Seat Fund
GRAN DUETTO violino & chitarra Bibl.Mozzi-Borgetti Macerata Palmieri
TRE DUETTI violino & chitarra Bibl. mus. Greggiati - Ostiglia Greggiati
TRE DUETTI violino & chitarra Bibl. Casanatese - Roma Marefoschi
DUETTO violino & chitarra Bibl. Casanatese - Roma Marefoschi
TRE DUETTI violino & chitarra Bibl. Casanatese - Roma Marefoschi
EXERCICES chitarra sola Bibl. Conservatorio - Napoli -

 

Bibliography

  • F. Biraghi, Fantaisie Op.5, review in il Fronimo n. 77, p. 50-51

  • Eugenio Becherucci, Chitarra e pianoforte - breve storia della letteratura del duo dall'Ottocento ai nostri giorni in il Fronimo no. 70, Milan 1990

  • M. Agostinelli, L'editoria musicale italiana del primo Ottocento per chitarra, Ottocento Ediz. Music., Ancona 1993

  • M. Agostinelli, F. Rossini, Un fondo di manoscritti per chitarra alla biblioteca Mozzi-Bergetti di Macerata Ottocento Ediz. Music., Ancona 1992

  • Emilio Gragnani, Sette Note per 300 anni - Musicisti di Livorno dal 1550 ai nostri giorni, Rivista di Livorno, anno VII, 1957

  • Claudio Sartori, Dizionario degli Editori Italiani (Tipografi, incisori, librai-editori), Olshki, Firenze 1958

  • René Vannes, Dictionaire Universel des Luthiers, Les Amis de la Musique, Brusselles 1951

  • See also the Basic Bibliography