The Elegy on the death of Anton Rubinstein for two cellos, composed by Carlo Alfredo Piatti (1822—1901) on November 22, 1894, just two weeks after the Russian master’s passing, is the second publication of this year where we celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of the cellist and composer from Bergamo. This edition faithfully reflects the composer’s unpublished manuscript, and is offered in the form of a score and two separate parts.
I sincerely thank my dear friend and musicologist Annalisa Barzanò, without whose help none of my publications dedicated to Piatti would have ever seen the light of day. It is from her skillful pen that the following words flow, magically descending us into those years of the late XIX century in which an Italian cellist wove plots of eternal and border-less friendships with his music.
Alfredo Piatti had met Anton Rubinstein (1829—1894) in London in 1858 at a concert at the Musical Union. Their artistic collaboration had soon turned into a lifelong cordial friendship. In the summer of 1892, Piatti was in Milan with his daughter when he learned that Rubinstein was also in Milan. They organised a dinner together and Rubinstein expressed the desire to be presented to Giuseppe Verdi (1813—1901). Verdi, delighted with the visit, said he would like to hear Piatti and Rubinstein play together and so a small concert was organised. The next day Piatti, borrowing a cello from Count Melzi, played with Rubinstein in a corner of one of the halls of the hotel where Verdi was staying. It was a memorable concert, reserved for a few intimates, including Arrigo Boito (1842—1918). After performing one of his Sonatas for cello and piano with Piatti, Rubinstein played Chopin’s Funeral March and Verdi was moved to tears. The memory of that evening and Verdi’s tears certainly returned to Piatti’s mind, when, in November 1894, the news of Rubinstein’s death came to him. He himself was seriously ill and the sad news of his friend’s death aggravated his condition to the point of making him fear for his life. Fortunately, everything resolved for the best. The happy outcome of surgery gave him back his health and the desire to compose. As a sign of gratitude for the affectionate care received, Piatti then dedicated the Elegy for two cellos on the death of Anton Rubinstein to his attending physician and future biographer, Dr. Vittorio Camplani.