Puccini the Thinker: The Composer's Intellectual and Dramatic Development

Puccini the Thinker: The Composer's Intellectual and Dramatic Development

Puccini the Thinker: The Composer's Intellectual and Dramatic Development

Puccini the Thinker: The Composer's Intellectual and Dramatic Development

Synopsis

John Louis DiGaetani is Professor of English at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York.

Excerpt

Giacomo Puccini was born in a musically distinguished but impoverished family in Lucca on December 22, 1858. His father, grandfather, and forefathers had been distinguished composers in Lucca, and the Lucchesi government and the Cathedral of San Martino in Lucca had often commissioned a Puccini to write a particular musical composition for the church or the town. Four generations of Puccini men had been organists or choir masters at the cathedral. Puccini biographer Mosco Carner argues that this musical tradition remained the dominant force in young Giacomo's childhood development. In fact, Michele Puccini (the father of Giacomo) was director of the local musical academy in Lucca, then called the Istituto Musicale Pacini. However, Puccini's father died in 1864 when the boy was only five, leaving no fortune for his family to inherit, and his mother, Albina Magi Puccini, had six other children to raise. Poverty remained a dominant concern of his childhood, and as the oldest son, his mother incurred in him a desire to become a financial success and save the whole family from poverty, which he would try to do and succeed.

There were five girls in the family and two sons, Giacomo and Michele.

Michele Puccini would as an adult emigrate to South America, where he would die. Giacomo was very saddened by the death of his younger brother, which he felt was caused by the family's poverty because that drove the young Michele to emigrate. The constant whispers about money dominated the Puccini household. The Puccini house on 30 Via di Poggio in the center of Lucca now has a plaque on it that states that Giacomo Puccini was born and raised there.

Puccini's musical education began in his family, with his uncle Magi giving him his first piano lessons and declaring that the boy had musical talents. Puccini also studied with other musicians, especially the local musicians in Lucca, and he was a choirboy at both of the main churches . . .

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