Who is Francesco Zappa?

Francesco Zappa was born, probably in Milan, in 1717 and was a composer and cellist and the first traces of his career date returning to november 1763 to the middle of 1764: in those years, he met and provided music lessons in Milan to the Duke of York, who in the future desired him to his support as «Master of Music», and he held that office until 1767, the year of the death of the Duke.

The solely concrete credit to the period in Milan is on the cover of Opus I, where he is mentioned as
…Professor of Cello, and Composer of the Academy of Milan …

 From 1764, his live performance activity was quite intense in France, Germany and the Netherlands: an essay by Oscar Tajetti reconstructs this lively period of work and travel through the correspondence of Francesco Pasquale Ricci, Choirmaster and also organist of the Cathedral of Como, and affectionate companion of Zappa, with whom shared a lot of experiences and musical gigs.

 In mid-1764, Zappa and compatriot Ricci embarked on a tour of Europe, going to Dresden, Frankfurt, Mainz and Mannheim. In September 1764, the two accomplished concerts around the Netherlands. In this particular period, Zappa establishes himself in The Hague, where he was consequently hired by the Court of the Prince of Orange with regularity for the next four decades, firstly showing up on the payroll for the court's Winter concert season in 1766.

Especially vital is the letter of April 24, 1771, written by Zappa, who was in Paris, to Ricci. From the confidences to his friend, it is possible to get exciting information on his character. The profile that emerges is that of a man seriously interested in his work as a music performer, continuously shifting from one stage to another

… And if you do not want to come to Paris, I'll find somewhere that is not much out of the way to go to Vienna, and in this country I'll wait for you, and we'll make a nice trip, and earn money, and we'll have a very good time, like true friends, like brothers. …

In 1771 he presented a number of concerts in Germany, dropping by the Polish city of Gdańsk and, on 22 September, Frankfurt am Main. Most likely he was also active in Paris in the 1770s. Based on Mendel (1879), he undertook an additional tour of Germany in 1781, and with "his gentle and beautiful sound" inspired wonder in all who listened.

Zappa's oeuvre contains symphonies, trios, sonatas, divertimenti and also songs. His compositions frequently feature a notable part for the cello.

6 Sonatas for keyboard/harpsichord, as Opus 4a (Paris, n.d.)
6 Duos (violin, cello/2 violins) (Paris, n.d.)
Duo for 2 cellos, Ms., m. 5740, Sammlung Hausbibliothek
Trio sonatas, 2 violins and bass:
6 Trios (London, 1765), as Opus 1 (The Hague, n.d.)
6 Trios as Opus 2 (London, ca. 1767)
6 Trios as Opus 3 (Paris, n.d.)
6 Trios as Opus 4 (London, n.d.)
6 Sonates à deux Violons & Basse, (The Hague, n.d.), Sammlung Thulemeyer
Other Works:
6 Keyboard Sonatas, Opus 6 (Paris 1776), mentioned by Mendel (1879)
6 Symphonies (Paris, n.d.)
2 Romances, 1 violin, piano, as Opus 4 (The Hague, n.d.)
2 Romances, 1 violin (The Hague)
Sonata for cello, Mus. ms. 23490, Berlin Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Sinfonia con Violoncello obbligato No. 1 for 2 violins, viola, violoncello obbligato, 2 oboes, 2 horns, Ms., m. 5737, Sammlung Hausbibliothek
Quartetto Concertante for 2 violins, viola, cello, "composta all Aya li 8 Liuglio 1788," Ms. m. 5740, Sammlung Hausbibliothek
27 Pieces, 2 for piano, 5 for 1 violin, piano, as Opus 11 (The Hague, n.d.)
2 Sonata à tre for violin, violoncello obbligato, bass, in Early Cello Series, xxiii (London, 1983)
Other works: Vienna Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Bad Schwalbach Evangelisches Pfarrarchiv, Milan Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Verdi

Frank Zappa performed Francesco Zappa's Opus 1 trios and Opus 4 sonatas on Synclavier and introduced the resulting album, "His First Digital Recording in over 200 Years," on CD and LP in 1984. While believed by many to have been related, Frank Zappa mentioned in his biography, The Real Frank Zappa Book, that in fact they were not.

The first recording of Francesco Zappa's symphonies was made by the New Dutch Academy directed by Simon Murphy; PentaTone Classics PTC 5186 365, released in 2009. The recording features American Baroque cellist Caroline Kang in the solo role in Zappa's "cello symphonies".

Who is Francesco Zappa? Who is Francesco Zappa? Reviewed by Klemen Hlupič on 03:13 Rating: 5

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