Giovanni Puzzi : his life and work : a view of horn playing and musical life in England from 1817 into the Victorian era (c.1855)
The focus of this dissertation is a comprehensive study of the life and work of Giovanni Puzzi, nineteenth-century Britain's most celebrated virtuoso of the horn. In his hands, the horn -- hitherto largely known to England's aristocracy as an obstreperous member of the orchestra or popular form of pleasure garden entertainment became a sought-after attraction at London's most fashionable and exclusive concerts. An examination of Puzzi's activities as an orchestral player and as a soloist in a wide variety of public and private concerts chronicles his rise to celebrity and establishes his position in London's concert life. Equally impressive was Puzzi's sustained prosperity in a notoriously difficult business. Key to this triumph was his multifaceted exploitation of the Italian opera. Through his activities as an agent, impresario and arranger he allied himself as a fixer and performer with his era's most lucrative musical commodity: the singers of the Italian opera. In the large body of music that he arranged and composed to capitalise on audience fascination with virtuosity and opera, Puzzi has provided the only substantial record of horn playing in Britain during the nineteenth century. The majority of fhe manuscripts considered in this dissertation are drawn from a private collection and have not been previously studied or published. This material, in conjunction with Puzzi's surviving instruments and critical accounts of his playing, has been utilised to reconstruct and assess the main attributes of his virtuosity. This dissertation shows that Puzzi was responsible for establishing the preference for French style instruments and performance technique in England and that he was the first exponent of the British school of horn playing that reached its culmination in Dennis Brain. While virtuoso string players, pianists and singers have attracted much attention from scholars and biographers, this dissertation is the first full length historical study of a nineteenth-century horn virtuoso to be written.