Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Music History Monday: François-André Danican Philidor

We mark the birth on September 7, 1726 – 294 years ago today – of the composer and chess master (properly, the “unofficial” world chess champion!) François-André Danican Philidor. 

François-André Danican Philidor
François-André Danican Philidor (1726-1795)

In my Dr. Bob Prescribes post for Tuesday, September 1 (all of last week), we observed that the composer and conductor Giuseppe Sinopoli died all-too young of a heart attack (while conducting a performance of Aida in Berlin), on April 20, 2001, at the age of 54. We further observed that he died two days before he was to receive a Laurea in Archeology – a bachelor’s degree in archeology – from the Università La Sapienza in Rome. Finally, we observed that among Sinopoli’s publications is a book entitled Masterpieces of Greek Ceramics from the Sinopoli Collection.

Ah: “the Sinopoli Collection.” So, either he was himself a collector or he grew up with a family collection of Greek ceramics. Was he, then, just a hobbyist, a passionate collector, or something more?

We would observe that hobbyists do not generally suffer the rigors of attaining a bachelor’s degree at the age of 54 just because they like to collect stuff.

No: Giuseppe Sinopoli would appear to be that fairly rare, world-class professional musician who was also accomplished in a field entirely separate from music.

There are other examples of such. …

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