Friday, 19th August 2022

Death of Dragonetti, The Times newspaper 1846

Dragonetti picture

Death of Dragonetti (April 18, 1846) - “We regret to announce the decease of this celebrated double-bass performer, who expired at his house in Leicester Square on Thursday afternoon. Count Pepoli (The Italian poet), Mr. Novello, Mr. Pigott and M. Tolbecque, were with the musician during his last moments. He was Venetian by birth, and was born in 1762 or 1764, for Dragonetti was never positive about the date. His father was also a contra-basso. At nine years of age Domenico began to play upon the guitar. He then studied the violin, and at 12 years old began to play on the double bass, to the amazement of the whole city. He practised much with Mestrino, the famous violinist; and at age 13 Dragonetti was nominated primo basso at the Opera Buffa. At 14 he was promoted to the same position at the “Grand Opera Seria.” At 18 he was engaged in the Chapel of San Marco, performing at concerts the violoncello parts on the double-bass.

He then went to Vicenza, where he purchased his well-known Amati? double-bass. He visited Padua, after which he was offered an engagement as principal contra-basso, at the King's Theatre in this country, in which he remained up to his death. Dragonetti was eccentric in his habits, but had an ardent attachment for his art. His conversation was curious and amusing from the strange mixture of French, Italian and English words. He was most punctual and honourable in his engagements. For 30 years he and his colleague Robert Lindley were always the first to take their places in an orchestra.

Dragonetti kept his beloved instrument, which we understand he has bequethed to San Marco at Venice, as close to the stage-door of the opera house as possible, in order that it might be saved in the event of a fire. As a performer he was the greatest executant ever known. He was the Paganini of the double bass. His wonderful power of keeping an orchestra together and sustaining singers was not the least of his gifts.The conformation of his hands was particularly favourable for his muscular power.” - Morning Chronicle.