Observations on the Florid Song;TOSI, Pier. Francesco
Or Sentiments on the Ancient and Modern Singers. Written in Italian by Pier. Francesco Tosi of the Phil-Harmonic Academy at Bologna. Translated into English by Mr Galliard; Useful for all Performers, Instrumental as well as Vocal. To which are added, Explanatory Annotations, and Examples in Musick
London: Printed for J. Wilcox, at Virgil's Head in the Strand. 1742.
First edition in English. 12mo in 6s. 166x97mm. pp. xx, 184. Six folding plates of musical notation cross referring to the text. Contemporary speckled calf, red morocco label on spine, lettered in gilt. Cracking to joints but boards are firmly attached. Wear to corners and tear to foot of spine with slight loss. The contents are in very good condition with only very slight foxing in places although there is waterstaining to the last two gatherings (8 leaves). Front pastedown has the armorial book plate of George Wm. Gent and the front free end paper has the inscription "an admired work, very scarce. J.B." A nice copy of what is, indeed, an admired and scarce work.
Pier Francesco Tosi was born in 1653 and castrated as a child to preserve his high voice. He sang in Rome, Milan and Genoa before moving to London in 1693 where he gave recitals and singing lessons. His second spell in London began in 1724 and coincided with Handel’s domination of the London music scene. Tosi taught, performed and composed and was one of the founders of the Academy of Vocal Music which renamed the Academy of Ancient Music in 1730. Opinioni de’ cantori antichi, e moderni was first published in Italian in 1723. This English translation (there was a second edition in 1743) is a testimony to Tosi’s influence as a teacher and to the interest in opera and vocal music generally in England following the huge success of Handel. The work is a guide for teachers but also contains some frank advice for students and would-be professional singers. One senses that Tosi, although no doubt an excellent teacher, was also a rather fierce one. There is plenty of technical advice (supported by musical examples) which also offers us a valuable insight into Baroque performance practice.