Domenico Dragonetti ( Venice Apr.9, 1763 - London Apr.16, 1846 )

Dragonetti Dragonetti Dragonetti
Domenico Dragonetti was surely the greatest double-bass player of his time. When he was just 13 he was the first double-bass at the Opera Buffa in Venice and, after a few years, at the San Marco’s Cappella. On Sept.16th, 1794 he moved to London, where he made his debut at the King’s Theatre, beginning a brilliant career. Soon he became famous in every part of Europe, where he held concerts, often in duet with his frind Robert Lindley. In Wien he met Haydn and Beethoven and collaborated with Listz, Mendelsson, Paganini, Rossini... He wrote many double-bass soloist / piano and double-bass soloist / orchestra compositions. Fame brought him money too. He formed a large collection of arts and musical instruments once owned by great masters: Stradivari, Maggini, Montagnana... which he bequethed to his orchestra’s members, as he never married and had no children. As he disposed by will, the precious Gasparo da Salò (1590) – a present by the procurators of St. Mark who acquired it for him in 1791 – had to be brought to Venice and kept in the San Mark’s Chapel to be played by the orchestra’s best double-bass player. Dragonetti never separated from his Gasparo - he refused to sell it for 20.000 golden liras - and, as he told a friend, if it had been stolen or burned, he would have stopped playing. In his words: "It would be as Dragonetti was dead; I’d brake my bow and nobody in the world could make me play again!".


Dragonetti double-bass restoration

It was for me a great pleasure when, on the 3rd of May 2007, the city of Venice entrusted me with the restoration of Dragonetti’s Gasparo da Salò.
The next day, my friend Ughetto and me went to Venice to collect the instrument.

Ughetto

The double-bass presented several cracks on the soundboard, back and ribs; inside it the bars were unstuck and many plugs were broken. We had to open it.

opened Gasparo

I'm sure it was not by chance that it was entrusted to me. I know that they discussed a lot about how to restore it and finally they decided to keep it exactly as Dragonetti left it, because of it's great historical value ( with its gut strings, the same fingerboard, the end-pin.....).
I didn't change anything, except for the strings, too old to be repaired.

Scaramelli

It was a great emotion having in my workshop the most important double-bass in the world. While I was working at it, I felt as Dragonetti himself was there. The guardians of St. Mark's Chapel told me that the very night after I collected the double-bass, all the lamps that illuminated it in the cubby where it was kept burned out... It was certainly a sign of destiny: it had to be entrusted to me. Maybe another lute-maker could have considered it just a Gasparo da Salò from 1590. To me it was Dragonetti's double-bass. When the double-bass was ready, fortunately Zoran Markovic e Giuseppe Ettorre, both of them great concert players, came to my laboratory and had the chance to play this instrument. Watch the video below: Ettorre, leading double-bassist at the "La Scala" Theatre in Milan, plays Dragonetti with its original bow (see picture below) restored by M° Lazzarato. The video was recorded at the laboratory practice room.

GIUSEPPE ETTORRE PLAYS DRAGONETTI



archetto

While they were playing, its sound grew more and more powerful, full of variations, its voice growing louder, its beautiful warm color ... an unforgettable experience.
Gasparo Gasparo
On the 11th of July 2007, I brought the instrument back to Venice, where it will be forever displayed and, at last, ... played.

Scaramelli in Venice


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