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Ponchielli, Amilcare
Amilcare Ponchielli
August 31, 1834 – January 16, 1886

Amilcare Ponchielli was an Italian composer chiefly known for his operas. He was also an exceptional teacher, and counted Puccini and Mascagni among his pupils.

Ponchielli first learned music from his father, who was an amateur organist. The boy quickly displayed talent with music, and after lessons at a nearby village, was enrolled at the Milan Conservatory for more serious musical studies. He contributed his first symphony at only ten.

Ponchielli’s attraction to opera began midway through his instruction. And while he was employed as an organist following his graduation, he continued to explore opera. Later he worked at a theatre, and it was here that his I promessi sposi was performed, and he was noticed for his skills. He produced other operas over the next decade and a half, but none became strong successes. A revision of I promessi sposi fared better in Milan, and the piece finally caught on throughout Italy. With the production of a ballet, Le due gemelle, Ponchielli achieved great fame, which expanded throughout Europe. He was invited to become head of composition at the Milan Conservatory, and also held a post as maestro at the Bergamo Cathedral.

While his oeuvre was inconsistent, his writing was memorable for passion, variety, and masterful orchestration.

Notable works:
I promessi sposi
La Gioconda
Marion Delorme

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