PPP1504 Giovanni Puzzi: Air Variè sur ‘God save the King’

PPP1504 Puzzi - God save the king COVER - NEEDS BAR CODE.jpg
PPP1504 Puzzi - horn.jpg
PPP1504 Puzzi -score.jpg
PPP1504 Puzzi - God save the king COVER - NEEDS BAR CODE.jpg
PPP1504 Puzzi - horn.jpg
PPP1504 Puzzi -score.jpg

PPP1504 Giovanni Puzzi: Air Variè sur ‘God save the King’

12.00

Born in Parma, Giovanni Puzzi (1792–1876) was something of a child prodigy having made a name for himself as a soloist from an early age. He came to international note when, sometime prior to 1809, he was brought to the attention of Napoleon by Ferdinando Paer (a composer who also hailed from Puzzi’s home town) and was awarded a place in the Chapelle de l’Empereur. A little while later, thanks to the support of the prima donna assoluta Angelica Catalani, he appeared as a soloist at the Parisian Théâtre Italien, later becoming the Théâtre’s celebrity cor solo (principal horn). After the fall of the Napoleonic empire in 1815, the Duke of Wellington brought Puzzi to England, where he instantly caused a sensation, sharing concert platforms with famous virtuosi instrumentalists and singers such as Liszt, Dragonetti, Lablache, Rubini and Pasta. During his career in London he was very much seen as the leading horn player of the age. In addition to his position as principal horn of the Italian opera orchestra at the King’s/Her Majesty’s Theatre, he was a member of both The Philharmonic Society and The Concert of Ancient Music. Puzzi regularly appeared as both a chamber musician and a soloist and was a professor at the newly founded Royal Academy of Music in London. Whilst his skills as a musician were renowned, he was also highly praised for his skills as an impresario:

 

Puzzi was not only an admirable artiste, and an unrivalled performer on an instrument to which he imparted intense expression, and which he played with tasteful facility, but he was a highly cultivated musician, on whose capacity for judging the qualities of a débutant or débutante the utmost reliance could be placed. To his skill also were confided - not merely by the managers of the Italian opera, but also by private and professional concert-givers, - the special musical arrangements, whether of the stage or the platform. Puzzi’s value in the musical world as therefore considerable, especially as, although one of the most amiable of men,  his principles were as incorruptible as his judgment was appreciative.

Gossip of the Century; Personal and Traditional Memories, Social, Literary, Artistic, Etc

Mrs William Pitt Byrne née Julia Clara Busk, 1842.

 

Much of Puzzi’s repertoire, either written by him, or for him, was based on arrangements of popular tunes of the day. The British Library holds a folio of manuscripts which illustrate the range of material he drew upon, including settings of themes from famous opera arias (Bellini’s ‘Oh! Divina Agnese’ from Beatrice di Tenda, Mozart’s ‘La ci darem la mano’ from Don Giovanni), ballad tunes (‘Faithless Emma’ by Sir John Stevenson) and another setting of ‘God Save the King’, this timefor a larger ensemble consisting of solo horn, flute and strings. 

 

The version of Variations on ‘God Save the King’ published here was originally entitled Quatre Airs variés pour le cor avec accompagnement de piano and was published by the Pacini in Paris circa 1817. The choice of theme does seem rather daring in post-Napoleonic France. Might this be an attempt by Puzzi to distance himself from his previous employer (Napoloen) and to assert his new allegiance to his new employer (Wellington)? The tension between the various factions are alluded to in this slightly sneering account in the German Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung of Puzzi’s performance of Variations on ‘God save the King’ early in 1817:

 

In the same concert the Hornist Puzzi performed Variations on ‘God save the King’, wherefore he was a hair's breadth away from being treated obstreperously by the spirited, highly cosmopolitan audience. French Patriotism lives! In Paris Mr. Puzzi is considered a sublime horn player: however in reality the French have no understanding of real wind music (something they themselves understand since they heard the wind instruments of the German Allies in Paris), thus this judgement means nothing more for Mr. Puzzi than that he has reasonable skill on his instrument. This I concede to him; one can however say little about his tone (quality) and presentation, as with other French wind instrumentalists.

Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, 12th of February, 1817. (translation Kathryn Zevenbergen).

Quantity:
Add To Cart