(b Philadelphia, 14 May 1864; d Chicago, 13 Dec 1942). American singer, composer and writer on music. She played the piano, sang, composed and performed from an early age. After initial study at home with her musician parents, she travelled to Paris in 1883 to study singing with Mathilde Marchesi, composition with Benjamin Godard, and art song interpretation with Herbert Bemberg, Widor and Massenet. She became the first qualified teacher of the Marchesi method in the USA. After teaching privately in Philadelphia and at the National Conservatory, New York, she married (1891) and moved to Chicago, where she became a prominent organizer of and participant in cultural and philanthropic events. She also pursued further composition study with Ziehn (1901–7). An advocate of opera sung in English, she founded the Opera in Our Language Foundation, which later became the American Opera Society of Chicago. Her tireless efforts to gain recognition for American composers included the establishment of the David Bispham Memorial Award to motivate the composition and performance of American opera. A prolific writer, she wrote numerous articles championing American teachers, performers and composers. Her book, Recollections and Reflections of an American Composer, is unpublished.
By the end of her life, Freer had written and published 137 songs, 13 pieces for vocal ensemble, 11 chamber operas and 19 piano works. Her compositional style reflects her European training, displaying the colourful chromaticism of the late 19th century. Her harmonic choices, particularly in the song accompaniments, are often surprising; an avoidance of strong dominant-tonic relationships is characteristic. Her most extended work is a song cycle on Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Forty-Four Sonnets from the Portuguese.
A type of Reed consisting of a flexible metal tongue, fixed at one end to a stationary plate. When activated by air pressure or suction, the tongue vibrates freely through a slot cut in the plate (in some cases the reed is cut out of the plate and lies flat within it). This contrasts with a ‘beating reed’ such as an organ reed-pipe tongue or clarinet reed, which beats against a flat surface having an aperture cut into it that is narrower than the tongue. Each free reed gives only one note, a different reed being required for each note of the instrument. However, since the reed is free to vibrate with varying degrees of amplitude in response to the amount of air pressure used, free reed instruments are nevertheless capable of dynamic inflection. The pitch of the note is produced by the natural frequency of the reed, either alone (as with the harmonica), or in some cases (seeSheng) in a coupled system combining the frequencies of both reed and pipe (in the manner of beating reed instruments). Timbre can be affected by the shape and design both of the reed itself and of the resonating chamber. The principle of the free reed has existed for many centuries in East Asia but was not extensively used in the West until the late 18th century, when it began being applied to organs.
For further discussion of free reeds seeAccordion; Concertina; Harmonica; Organ, §III, 3; Reed instruments; and Reed organ. Other free reed instruments entered in this dictionary include the khaen, keledi, mouth organ, saenghwang and shō.
(b Gera, 13 June 1818; d Leipzig, 22 Aug 1891). German soprano. A pupil of Pohlenz, she made her début in 1832 in a concert given by Clara Wieck at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, and in the following year she made her stage début, also at Leipzig, in the title role of Spohr’s Jessonda. After singing in Dresden in 1835 she was engaged at the Royal Opera House, Berlin where she had a great success as Donna Elvira, but on her marriage in 1836 she retired from the stage and sang only in concerts. At Leipzig she maintained a choir of 50 voices and an orchestra, led by Ferdinand David and conducted by Lange; her house was a meeting-place for musicians and artists. She was a close friend of Mendelssohn and frequently performed his music, to which her pure, light voice and classical style were admirably suited; she sang his last song, Nachtlied (Eichendorff), at the first Gewandhaus concert after the composer’s death in 1847.
G.Selden-Goth, ed.: Felix Mendelssohn: Letters (New York, 1945/R)
H.E.Jacob: Felix Mendelssohn und seine Zeit (Frankfurt, 1959; Eng. trans., 1963/R)
G.R.Marek: Gentle Genius: the Story of Felix Mendelssohn (New York, 1972)
Fregiotti, Dionigio [Dionisio]
(b Rome, ?c1663; d Rome, after 1717). Italian singer and composer. He was one of the seven children of François Fraichot, described as a Burgundian painter, who had left Besançon about 1650 to settle in Rome. Dionigio and his elder brother Michele were listed as members of the Congregazione dei Musici di S Cecilia in 1684. Michele had applied unsuccessfully for a post as tenor in the papal choir the previous year, and did finally enter the choir on 11 October 1690; he died in Rome on 18 February 1709. Dionigio Fregiotti was also a tenor; he is mentioned as singing at S Maria Maggiore from 1685, and at S Giacomo degli Spagnuoli from 1697 to July 1716. He is last mentioned in the archives of that church on 31 January 1718.
In 1704 Fregiotti composed a cantata, L’eresia deballata da S Tomaso d’Aquino, for the celebrations in honour of St Thomas Aquinas held annually by the Dominicans of S Maria sopra Minerva; only the libretto, by Paolo Rolli, survives (copy in I-Rli). Fregiotti’s extant works, in the Chigi collection (I-Rvat), consist of a serenata for three voices (S, S, A) and strings, a large-scale cantata for two sopranos and strings, and 50 chamber cantatas for soprano and continuo (one with violin). The cantatas are in the style current in Rome at the time, including usually two da capo arias, but there are some rather surprising structural features; one cantata, Voi che del Tebro, includes an aria with a fully written-out harpsichord part. Handel seems to have admired Fregiotti’s music and quoted from it several times.
J.Burke: ‘Musicians of Santa Maria Maggiore’, NA, new ser., ii (1984), suppl.
H.J.Marx: ‘Die “Giustificazioni della casa Pamphilj” als musikgeschichtliche Quelle’, Studi musicali, xii (1983), 121–87
J.Lionnet: ‘Un musicista dimenticato: Dionigio Fregiotti’, Händel e gli Scarlatti a Roma: Rome 1985, 285–96
J.Lionnet: ‘La musique à San Giacomo degli Spagnoli au XVIIème siècle et les archives de la Congrégation des Espagnols de Rome’, La musica a Roma attraverso le fonti d’archivio: Rome 1992, 479–505