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Giuseppe Malerbi
(1771-1849)

canonic and composer of instrumental music

G. Malerbi

The two brothers Giuseppe and Luigi Malerbi, both composers and priests, lived in Lugo, in the Emilia-Romagna region, a town of the then Papal States, and in this epoch among the richest of towns for cultural and musical activity. Don Giuseppe Malerbi (1771-1849) was educated at the school of Giovanni Battista Vitali and presumably also with Father Mattei in Bologna. In 1804 he was guest composer at the Philharmonic Academy of Bologna and was afterwards also at the Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome. He was a skilled organist, an excellent contrapuntist, and chapel master; in his home he founded a school where much sacred and chamber music was played, and students there devoted themselves to the study of composition and singing.

In this culture environment the young Gioachino Rossini began his acquaintance with music and Giuseppe Malerbi himself was among his first teachers, between 1802 and 1804. The young Rossini daily visited the house of the two priests to practice on a spinetta, and there he composed his earliest sacred music works. Malerbi was also the teacher of the renowned castrato soprano Velluti, Angelo Barbieri, Domenico Ghinassi, Antonio Brunetti and Ignazio Assali.

Malerbi's work is preserved mostly in manuscript, although it had a wide audience and much fame during his lifetime. In fact, his Te Deum for large orchestra was performed under his direction in 1805 in the church of San Petronio in Bologna, during the ceremony of Napoleon's coronation as king of Italy.

Giuseppe Malerbi is associated with the great tradition of contrapuntal music and his artistic production, quite vast though nowadays largely forgotten, employs principally the 'severe' style. It is worth mentioning that, while the Romantic musical stage made for him his major fortune and success, the Italian musical tradition still maintained a vibrant, valuable instrumental repertory in which Malerbi was active.

Malerbi is known only to guitarists for his Concerto in Re maggiore per chitarra ed orchestra for guitar with 2 oboes, 2 horns and strings, where the guitar has a concertant role. The solo instrument called for in this work is the modern chitarra francese (six string French guitar), an early use of the instrument, which was gradually replacing the long-held dominance of guitarra española with 5 courses of stings. The concert is made up of an Allegro (124 bars with a cadenza), Andante sostenuto (60 bars), and Rondo-Allegro spiccato (129 bars), all without ritornello.

Work with Guitar of Giuseppe Malerbi

The MS of the Concert is preserved at the Biblioteca Comunale "F. Trisi" at Lugo, in the Malerbi Holdings, MS A 431, and is entitled: "Concerto [con] chitarra franc.se obbligata con strumenti di G.M. Acc. Fil. Per Sig.a Cosma Pignocchi".

Bibliographic Notes