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Pugni, Cesare

Pugni, Cesare

Pugni, Cesare , Italian composer; b. Genoa, May 31, 1802; d. St. Petersburg, Jan. 26, 1870. He studied violin with Alessandro Rolla and composition with Asioli at the Milan Cons. He began his career as a composer for the stage with the ballet Elerz e Zulmida (Milan, May 6, 1826) and the opera II Disertore svizzero, o La nostaligia (Milan, May 28, 1831), followed by several other operas: La vendetta (Milan, Feb. 11, 1832), Ricciarda di Edimburgo (Trieste, Sept. 29, 1832), II Contrabbandiere (Milan, June 13, 1833), and Un episodio di S. Michele (Milan, June 14, 1834). He also wrote an ingenious Sinfonia a canone for 2 orchs. playing the same music, but with the second orch. coming in one measure later than the first (this musical legerdemain amused Meyerbeer). He then lived in Paris, where he struck up a rewarding collaborative relationship with the choreographer Jules Perrot and produced some 30 ballets, many of which were premiered at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London; among the most successful were Ondine, ou La naïade (June 22, 1843) and La –smeralda (March 9, 1844). In 1851 he was appointed ballet composer for the imperial theaters in St. Petersburg, where he produced such successful ballets as Konyok gorbunyok, Hi Tsar-devista (The Little Hump-backed Horse, or the Czar’s Daughter; Dec. 15, 1864).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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