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Ernesto Cavallini (1807-1874)
La Calma: romanza senza parole

Milan's La Scala became, in the 1830s, one of Europe's leading opera houses, and during that decade no less than 40 premieres were given under its roof. Among many fine clarinettists to perform in its orchestra, Ernesto Cavallini was by far the most distinguished. With his brother Eugenio, who later became leader of La Scala's orchestra, he was a student at Milan's Conservatorio from 1816 to 1824. Ernesto learnt from Benedetto Carulli (1797-1877) whom, in 1832, he joined as a member of the La Scala orchestra. At the end of Carulli's exceptionally long tenure of the professorship (1816-1871), Cavallini took over the post for the remaining years of his life. He toured extensively, invariably playing his own compositions, and dedications on the many works he wrote provide a veritable Who's Who of clarinettists of his time - not only in Italy itself, but in other parts of Europe as well. At the age of 45 Cavallini went to live in St. Petersburg, remaining there for 18 years and not only starring as a solo clarinettist but taking up teaching and composing for the voice. He returned to Milan in 1870 and took up a professorship at the Conservatoire.

La Calma belongs to this period. It opened the last of a three-volume set of pieces which also included Una Lagrima sulla tomba dell'immortale Rossini, and it makes a suitable close to the life of this great artist who, recipient of numerous honours from his own country, died in Milan in 1874.

Una Lagrima and La Calma have been recorded by Colin Bradbury and Oliver Davies on the CD The Art of the Clarinettist (CC0008).

© Oliver Davies.

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