A Musical Italy: Michael W. Balfe’s Italian Experiences

Basil Walsh

Abstract


The Dublin-born musician, Michael W. Balfe, was a singer, composer
and conductor whose brilliant musical career was heavily influenced by
formative experiences in Italy. In 1825, Balfe, interested in broadening
his musical studies first went to Paris where he was introduced to the
great composers, Luigi Cherubini and Gioachino Rossini, who took a
personal interest in him and his musical talents. On the advice of Rossini
he spent the next few years in Italy studying singing with the famous
Rossini singer, Filippo Galli, and taking music composition lessons
from Ferdinando Paer, in Rome. Later in Milan he studied harmony
and counterpoint with Vincenzo Federici. By 1831, when he was only
23 years old, his first three operas had been produced in Palermo, Pavia,
and Milan. He returned to London in August 1835, participating
with the great Lablache, Tamburini, Rubini and Grisi in a concert in
Vauxhall Gardens. In 1834 he made his debut at La Scala, Milan, singing
opposite the renowned mezzo-soprano, Maria Malibran in Rossini’s
Otello. He appeared again with Malibran in Venice early in 1835,
singing once more in Rossini and Bellini operas. Balfe worked as a singer
and composer throughout the Italian peninsula/states during the years,
1825-1835 and this article will chart these experiences and demonstrate
how the time he spent in Italy and the people he met, influenced his
life and later career as an important and popular European composer.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/SIJIS-2239-3978-18458



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