Faà di Bruno, Giovanni Matteo [Horatio, Orazio] 83

Ferrari [née Colombari de Montègre], Gabrielle [Gabriella]

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Ferrari [née Colombari de Montègre], Gabrielle [Gabriella]

(b Paris, 14 Sept ?1851; d Paris, 4 July 1921). Italian-French composer and pianist. She first received musical training in Italy, studying the piano and composition at the conservatories in Milan and Naples, where her teachers included Paolo Serrao. After her marriage to Francesco Ferrari, Italian correspondent for Le Figaro, she continued her studies in Paris with Alfred Apel and Théodore Dubois. She also received encouragement from François Leborne and from Charles Gounod, after whose death she studied at the Leipzig Conservatory. Returning to Paris, she dedicated herself to composition from about 1895. She was already well known as a pianist specializing in Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn and contemporary Russian works.

Ferrari was inevitably drawn to piano and song composition: the career of her more famous colleague, Cécile Chaminade, followed a similar path, which was probably the most acceptable for a woman in later 19th-century France. However, like Augusta Holmès, Ferrari also regularly composed for larger forces; indeed, she is exceptional among female composers of her time for having written eight operas, five of which were performed in Paris. Her greatest operatic success was a reprise of her drame lyrique Le Cobzar (expanded after its Monte Carlo première to two acts) at the Paris Opéra on 30 March 1912; it was only the second work by a woman to be performed at that theatre in the early Third Republic (Holmès’s La montagne noire was the first in 1895).

The difference between the reception of La montagne noire and that of Le Cobzar suggests a change in attitude towards women as composers of opera in early 20th-century France. Although both Holmès and Ferrari were accused of lacking technical skill and dramatic power, Le Cobzar was much more warmly received than La montagne noire, and even favourably linked with the emergence of a feminist movement in France (a movement that, in other musical contexts, was viewed as invidious). The opera is a tale of love, jealousy and murder in a contemporary Romanian village, and Ferrari draws on her previous experiences in pseudo-authentic musical exoticism (see especially her piano accompaniments to Spanish melodies, Chansons espagnoles) as well as her interest in verismo. Le Cobzar was, indeed, so ‘authentic’ that the costumes for the Opéra production were imported from Romania; musically, Ferrari employs modal mixture and melismatic vocal writing to create her own version of Romanian folk music. The lengthy ballet sequence at the end of Act 1 is a surprising glance back to an older style of French exotic opera; the close of Le Cobzar, with the hero’s hallucination of his fate as a convict in the Siberian salt mines, is dramatically original and more in keeping with the opera’s generally forward-looking structure and musical fabric.


all printed works published in Paris


Sous le masque, Paris, 1874; Le dernier amour (oc, 1, P. Berlier), Paris, Mondain, 11 June 1895; L’âme en peine (A. Bernède), Paris, 1896; Le Tartare (tableau musicale, 2, H. Vacaresco), Paris, Figaro, 19 June 1906; Le Cobzar (drame lyrique, 1, P. Milliet and Vacaresco), Monte Carlo, Opéra, 16 Feb 1909, rev. (2), Paris, Opéra, 30 March 1912, vs (1910)

Inc.: Le captif (Vacaresco); Lorenzo Salvièri (Bernède and Vacaresco); Le corregidor (Milliet)


Je veux, scène lyrique, S, orch (1909); Runes, S, orch (1911)

Songs, incl.: Le mot suprême (1882), Chansons espagnoles, S, pf (1884), Chanson de la poupée (1884), Songe du poète (1884–9), J’ai tant de choses à vous dire (1885), Chanson d’avril (1886), A Sylvanire (1887), Ballade (1894–9), Le berger de Blandy (1894), A une étoile (1895), Berceuse (1895), Orientale (1895), Le cavalier (1897), Aubade (1898), Sous bois (1898), Ballade (1899), Beau doux ami (1901)


Pf: Tarantelle (1884); Aspiration, caprice (1886); Romance sans paroles (1886); Le fuseau, caprice (1887); Feuilles d’album (1888); Rhapsodie espagnole (1889); Frénésie, valse (1893); Vieille histoire (1897); Pâles rayons, romance sans paroles (1898); Trois pièces caractéristiques (1898); Pierre qui roule, grande étude de concert (1903)

Chbr: Menuet de la cour du roy Louis XIV, vn, pf (1898); Sérénade espagnole, vc, pf (1901)


A. Pougin: ‘Semaine théâtrale: Le Cobzar’, Le Ménestrel (6 April 1912)

C. Bellaigue: ‘Revue musicale’, Revue des deux mondes, lxxxii (1912), 923–34

A.I. Cohen: International Encyclopedia of Women Composers (New York, 1981, 2/1987)


Ferrari, Giacomo Gotifredo [Gotifredo Jacopo]

(b Rovereto, bap. 2 April 1763; d London, Dec 1842). Italian composer and theorist. The son of a silk merchant, he was intended for the family business but showed great musical talent from an early age. He studied singing and the harpsichord with Marcolla and Borsaro in Verona while at school, composition with Marianus Stecher in the monastery of Marienberg (now Monte Maria), where he had gone to perfect his German, and, before the age of 20, had learnt to play the flute, oboe, violin, viola and double bass. After his father’s death in 1784 he decided to pursue a musical career. He accompanied Prince Lichtenstein to Rome and then to Naples, where he was befriended by Paisiello, but the composition lessons he had hoped for amounted to only four hours in five weeks. On the advice of Thomas Attwood he studied counterpoint with Gaetano Latilla. Later, from Vienna, Attwood sent him copies of Mozart's ‘Haydn’ quartets; Ferrari grew to esteem Mozart more highly than any other composer.

Ferrari's opera Le pescatrici was composed in Naples in 1786 but not performed. In 1787 he went to Paris where he played accompaniments for the queen, taught singing and was maestro al cembalo to the new Théâtre de Monsieur in the Tuileries. In that capacity he wrote additional music for Bianchi’s La villanella rapita and for Sarti’s Fra i due litiganti in 1789. In 1791 he composed two operas for the Théâtre Montansier, Les événements imprévus (to a libretto by T. D'Hèle earlier set by Grétry) and Isabelle de Salisburi (libretto by P.F.N. Fabre d’Eglantine), a collaboration with Bernardo Mengozzi. In Paris he also published vocal collections and some piano sonatas.

In April 1792 Ferrari moved to London, where he met Haydn and Clementi and quickly became a leading singing teacher, with the Princess of Wales among his pupils. On 14 May 1799 his one-act opera I due svizzeri was successfully performed; this was followed by Il Rinaldo d’Asti (1801), L’eroina di Raab (1814), a vehicle for Catalani, and Lo sbaglio fortunato (1817).

In 1799 Ferrari visited Vienna, purchasing the scores of Mozart's operas, and in 1803 visited Paris. On 28 October 1804 he married the pianist Victoire Henry. From 1809 to 1812 he was almost totally blind, but recovered and in 1815 went on another long journey to Italy, with Thomas Broadwood. In the 1820s he was for a time in Edinburgh as a teacher. His son Adolfo Angelico Gotifredo Ferrari (1807–70), a pupil of Crivelli, taught singing at the Royal Academy. Adolfo’s wife, Johanna Thomson, and his daughter Sophia were also singers.

Ferrari’s books on singing and music theory are of interest, but the highly entertaining Aneddotti (dedicated to George IV) are more important, as they contain much historical information and – in contrast with many similar works – are generally reliable. Besides his operas, Ferrari's works include two ballets performed in London, two piano concertos, about 20 sonatas for piano and violin or flute, 12 solo piano sonatas, sonatas and sonatinas for harp and violin and for harp and piano, trios, caprices and various piano arrangements. His vocal music includes a Complainte de la reine de France (1793) – he was a pronounced anti-revolutionary – and six Italian ariettas written for Catalani (1810).


Breve trattato di canto italiano (London, 1818; Eng. trans. by W. Shield, 1818)

Studio di musica teorica pratica (London, 1830; Eng. trans., c1830)

Aneddotti piacevoli e interessanti occorsi nella vita di Giacomo Gotifredo Ferrari da Rovereto (London, 1830); ed. S. di Giacomo (Palermo, 1920)





MGG1 (G. Barblan [incl. list of works])


E. Zaniboni: G.G. Ferrari musicista e viaggiatore (Trent, 1907)

G. Fino: Giacomo Gotifredo Ferrari: musicista roveretano (Trent, 1928)

G. de Saint-Foix: ‘A Musical Traveler: Giacomo Gotifredo Ferrari (1759–1842)’, MQ, xxv (1939), 455–65


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