Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Monday, February 9, 2015

Elisabetta de Gambarini, Composer and Performer

Elisabetta de Gambarini (died 9 February 1765)

Born in London, Elisabetta Gambarini is the daughter of Charles Gambarini, variously said to be an Italian musician in London or counsellor to the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel. (I suppose he could have been both . . . )

Elisabetta Gambarini, frontispiece
from Lessons for the Harpsichord, 
Intermix'd with Italian and English Songs
As a soprano, Gambarini performed roles in the first production of Handel's Occasional Oratorio in 1746, and she appeared in the Covent Garden performance in the next year.

In that year (1747), she created the role of the Israelite Woman in Handel's oratorio Judas Maccabaeus. She is also likely to have performed in Joseph and His Brethren (1747), and her name appears in the performing scores for two earlier works by Handel, Messiah (1741) and Samson (1743).

Gambarini published three books of her own compositions: Six Sets of Lessons for the Harpsichord (1748), Lessons for the Harpsichord, Intermix'd with Italian and English Songs, op. 2 (1748), and XII English & Italian Songs, for a German Flute and Thorough Bass, op. 3 (1750?).

Several recordings of Gambarini's compositions are available on YouTube--for one example, click here.

A facsimile of Lessons for the Harpsichord, Intermix'd with Italian and English Songs, op. 2 is available here.

There are several CDs available that include performances of Gambarini's compositions: Barbara Harbach's Music for Solo Harpsichord, vol. 1 and Lessons for Harpsichord, op. 1 and 2.

From Six Sets of Lessons