Contributed by
David Sanders, president of the Chicago Cello Society
and owner of Montagnana Books

for the Internet Cello Society

Renowned Italian cellist and teacher, born Borgo Canale, near Bergamo, January 8, 1822; died Crocetto di Mozzo, July 18, 1901.

Piatti received his primary musical education from his father, the violinist Antonio Piatti, and his great uncle, the cellist Gaetano Zenetti, whom he succeeded as cellist in the local theater orchestra when he was only 8 years old. He continued his studies with Merighi at the Milan Conservatory (1832-37), playing his own concerto at a public Conservatory concert on September 21, 1837.

Piatti made his first tour of Europe in 1838. His concerts were artistically successful but financially disastrous, and in 1843, falling ill in Pest, he was forced to sell his cello. In Munich on his way home, he was invited by Liszt to share a concert, which (given on a borrowed cello) proved to be a great success. Liszt encouraged Piatti to go to Paris, which he did in 1844, making his debut on another borrowed instrument. During this visit, Liszt presented Piatti with a cello of Nicolo Amati.

On May 31st of 1844, Piatti made his London debut where he was welcomed as an exceptional artist. On June 24 he played in a Philharmonic concert. Mendelssohn, who was conductor and principal soloist was so impressed that in 1847 he wrote at least part of a cello concerto for Piatti, a work that was lost in transit.

Piatti had a long and influential career in England as a performer and teacher. He played with all the great soloists of the day, including Ernst, Joachim, and Wieniawski, and was engaged as soloist and cellist of the Joachim quartet. He taught privately and as a professor at the Royal Academy of Music. Hausmann, Stern, Becker, Whitehouse and Squire were among his many distinguished pupils.

Piatti played many fine cellos, including a Rogeri and an outstanding Stradivari cello of 1720, now known as "The Piatti." He published a cello method, 2 cello concertos, a Concertino for cello and orchestra, 6 sonatas for cello and piano, 12 Caprices for cello, and various arrangements of 18th century music. He had a profound influence on cello history, especially in England. Playing in the old style, without an end-pin, he had a spectacularly agile technique, superb bow control, perfect intonation and a bright, singing, flexible tone. His interpretations were invariably free from the sentimentality into which so many of his contemporaries were lured.

A biography of Piatti was written by Morton Latham in 1901.

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