Marco Aurelio Zani de Ferranti


A Guitarist and Poet from Bologna

M. A. Zani de Ferranti

Marco Aurelio Zani de Ferranti was born in Bologna on July 6, 1800 (according to some sources, 1801). He came from a well-off family, with ancestry that included Venetian Dogi and famous musicians of the Seventeenth Century (such as Marco Antonio). From a young age, while a student in Lucca, he showed a propensity for literature and poetry.

When he was only twelve years old, having been present at a concert of Paganini, he began to study the violin, becoming an excellent performer after only four years. He took up the guitar afterwards, and decided to devote himself to this instrument under the guidance of Gherli. He made rapid progress and had a successful debut as a concert performer.

In 1820 Zani de Ferranti moved to Paris, meeting the favor of the musical public. However, he did not meet with the approval of the guitar circle there, having been criticized for his technique. After a short time he moved, perhaps for this reason, to St. Petersburg, where he worked as librarian for the senator Miatlev, and later as secretary of Count Narishkin. In the four years of his Russian stay, Zani de Ferranti worked on improving his guitar technique. He came back to central Europe and performed a recital on guitar in Hamburg, achieving a great success.

A charcoal caricature of Zani de Ferranti

His career broadened in 1825, with concerts in Paris, London and Brussels. He lived in this city temporarily, starting in 1827, teaching guitar and Italian literature. From 1832 Zani de Ferranti reassumed his concert activity, travelling to Holland, France, England, America and Italy, where he met Paganini again and with whom he was able to start up a personal relationship. By this time he was enjoying such a reputation as a guitar virtuoso that, in 1834, King Leopoldo of Belgium named him his "honorary guitarist."

He continued the road of the concert performer with concerts in all Europe; some of these were apparently in duo with the famous violinist Camillo Sivori. By 1846 Zani de Ferranti had settled definitely in Brussels, where he became the teacher of Italian at the Royal Conservatory of Music. He abandoned the guitar, whose popularity was decreasing, and lived the last years of his life in straitened circumstances. He moved finally to Pisa, where he died on November 19, 1878.

This composer for guitar has left about 30 works of a romantic-virtuostic character, among which are fantasias and notturnos for solo guitar, and two polaccas for three guitars. We should also mention his important literary works, published largely after his death, as his essays and studies on the poetry of Dante, a Grand Commentary on the Divine Comedy; he also authored poetry, the principal representative of which is "On the death of the famous Maria Malibran de Beriot."

(Transl. M. Penny)

Guitar Works of M.A. Zani de Ferranti

1. Solo Guitar Works

2. Chamber Works for Guitar

3. Lost or inexistent Works

3. Abbreviations

A.Gl Steiermärkische Landesbibliothek am Joanneum, Graz
A.Wgm Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna
B.Bc Bibliothèque du Conservatoire Royal de Musique, Brussels
B.Br Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Brussels
B.Gc Bibliotheek van het Koninklijk Muziek-Conservatorium, Gent
B.Lc Bibliothèque du Conservatoire Royal de Musique, Liège
D.Bs Staatsbibliothek (Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz), Berlin
D.MLs Landshauptstadt Munich
DK.Kc Carl Claudius Samling, Copenhagen
DK.Kk Det Kongelige Bibliothek, Copenhagen
F.Pn Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris
GB.FeA Ferranti family archives, Macclesfield, Cheshire
GB.Gs Library of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London
GB.RS Private collection of Robert Spencer, London
GB.SB Private collection of Stuart Button, Dorset
I.BT Biblioteca provata Benvenuto Terzi, Bergamo
S.Skma Kungliga Musikaliske Akademiens Bibliothek, Stockholm
US.CLP Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland, Ohio
US.MO Private collection of Matanya Ophee, Columbus, Ohio
US.NCu University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
US.NYp New York Public Library, New York
US.PHf Free Library of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
US.SLg Krick Collection, Gaylord Music Library, St. Louis, Missouri
US.Wc Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
USSR.Ls M.E Saltykov-Schedrin State Public Library, Leningrad