|Born in Parma or Piacenza into a big family of musicians, in particular important as woodwind players, from the early 16th century until late into the 19th century. During the 18th century no less than seven members of the family – brothers and cousins – excelled on the oboe. Several of them were composers too. A younger representative of the family – Louis-Désiré Besozzi (1814-1879) – became as a pianist the exception to the rule but also worked as an able composer. |
At the age of 12 young Alessandro enter into the military band – established by Antonio Farnese, prince of Parma – called Guardia Irlandese. Here his father and his eldest brother Giuseppe (1686-1760) already worked oboists. Alessandro stayed in the orchestra until 1728, from 1717 with his younger brother Paolo Girolamo (1704-1778). The three brothers were subsequently employed at dukedom of Parma as oboe virtuosos. Giuseppe worked 1734.38 at the court in Naples, but when he was afflicted by blindness, he was dismissed and devoted his time to teaching. ingen.
In 1731, Alessandro and Paolo Girolamo – oboist and bassoonist, respectively – worked at the royal orchestra in Turin in the service of Emanuele III, king of Sardinia. Here they stayed under the same roof for the rest of their lives. In 1735 they went on a short trip to Paris and triumphed at Les Concerts Spirituels. However, they soon got homesick and returned to Turin.
In 1770 Burney visited the two brothers, now elderly gentlemen of 66 and 68, and heard them play duets of their own composition. Apparently Burney believed that they composed together, but the music is only in Alessandro’s name. He movingly depicts the brothers – both bachelors – closely attached and with a uniformity in lifestyle and taste that reached as far as their clothes. People imagined that should one of the brothers pass away, the other one would soon follow suit. Alessandro proved them wrong: he outlived his brother by 15 years.
Burney is brimming over with enthusiasm over the brothers’ playing: so expressive! So many details! So much harmony that the music felt like heartfelt sighs, made through the same instrument. The music, too, delighted Burney. He writes that it consists of beautifully rounded passages, so perfectly worked out as to not make them seem like fragments but each as a whole, almost like selected thoughts or maxims in literature.
On the music
We have made two works available to you: A sonata and a duet. The sonata is a wonderful piece, a printed version of which exists in G major for flute. When transposed to F Major, it is perfect for the oboe, and as Besozzi was one of the greatest masters of that instrument, it was very likely originally conceived for oboe. The sonata was probably published in the G Major version for commercial reasons: there were - and are - far more flautists around than oboe players.
The duet - which we found for two flutes in e minor - is of a lighter character, both musically and technically. We have arranged it for recorders (g minor) and oboes (d minor) in addition to the original version for flutes. Adapting the music to the instruments available was a matter of routine in Besozzi's day - this can be seen in the fact that, except for the key, no changes were made to these delightful duets. Reaching as wide an audience and as many players as possible was important then as it is today.