Genoa, Part 3: Memories of Pasquale Taraffo

After our 3-day Milan trip, Friday was a morning to sleep in, then spend a leisurely afternoon, whilst Franco and company were off preparing for the 5pm concert & lecture which Franco had conceived to mark the 75th anniversary of Taraffo’s death.  The program (at left) was designed to celebrate his legacy, but especially to impart to the public a sense of pride and importance of their city’s treasure, second only to Paganini, the virtuoso violinist everyone knows the world over.

There was advance announcement in 3 different newspapers, and the turnout was great – in fact, standing room only (after about 250 chairs were set out).

I showed you the location earlier, but here it is again – the building to my right, the magnificent c.1900 Stock Exchange building, no longer in use (gone online, like everything).

The inside was gorgeous – a large, open circular room of great style and (expensive) taste.

Once again, Emilio Cagetti and his wife Ginetta Pastorino (great-niece of Taraffo) lent their original Gazzo harp guitar on its stand, once owned by Pasquale’s brother Rinaldo.  The high quality photos in this series were taken by Giorgo Scarfi.

Caption: “Did our wives actually get together and plan our matching outfits?!”

Cellist, conductor and former professor at the Paganini Conservatory, Nevio Zanardi (right) introduced Franco and the evening.

Jose’ Scanu (left) and Fabrizio Giudice performed 3 duets of guitar music honoring Taraffo.

Next, Giorgio De Martino discussed Taraffo’s reputation among opera stars during his lifetime, from an article he wrote for Musica magazine and  Giorgio is currently Andrea Bocelli’s press agent.

Franco next played Taraffo’s “Norma” 78 – a whole different experience than listening to a CD!

Beppe Gambetta spoke about the emotional connection he has to Taraffo’s music as a guitarist and fellow Genovese.
Much was made of the apparent “PDA” (public display of affection) between myself and the attractive mystery woman (is Franco giving us a disapproving stare?!), but she was only whispering in my ear the translations…honest!

Beppe next introduced me and I did my best to explain Taraffo’s role and reputation in both America and the worldwide harp guitar movement.

Chiara did a great job translating my ad libs, and we had fun.  My little attempts at humor met with mostly stony silence, so I kept it pretty straight.  Here’s as far as we went with our impromptu “comedy act.”

Fabrizio came out and played Taraffo’s arrangement of “Fantasia Capriccio” on his 1898 Oreste Candi 3-bass harp guitar (video, like above, is by Margherita, on her mini recorder).  Fabrizio is in the midst of preparing some important Taraffo material, as he studied guitar with one of the last living eyewitnesses to Taraffo’s technique.  Privately, he demonstrated for me the two unique Taraffo tremolos (I’ll not spoil the surprise).

And finally, a program (including some Taraffo) by the Genova Mandolin Orchestra, conducted by Eliano Calamaro.

Quite an event, and kudos to Franco and friends for putting on and including me in such a prestigious event!

And Chiara – we need to go on the road!

Next time: Visiting some old guitar pals in town!

  1. Chiara Says:

    We definitely need to!! And remember that whenever you need a personal assistant, you just need to call me (and pay me enough to move hubbby and son to the States, of course!!). We had a blast, didn’t we? It was an amazing experience! Btw, thanx for the “attractive mystery woman” part, you make me sound very cool!! 😉 Needless to say, my hubby didn’t appreciate at all the pic where we cuddle in front of the audience… oops, did I say cuddle?? I meant where I whispered in your ears… No, wait a minute… that doesn’t sound good either!! Where I translated what Beppe was saying!! Ok, better. Anyway, he didn’t like it. Italian men… 😉 Keep in touch!!

  2. Michael Schreiner Says:

    Many people are following this and not saying anything. They are like me, silently staring with open mouths at these fabulous historic instruments. We will never have the experiences that you are sharing with us so I am glad you are taking the time to do so. I have never had a desire to visit another country but I might just change my mind.

  3. Thomas Nielsen Says:

    Spot on, Michael. Spot on.

  4. Gregg Miner Says:

    Thanks, guys – makes it all worth doing!
    I’ll have a few more cool instruments in the next one…then a final Italy wrap up, I think.
    Meanwhile, I’m typing this near Times Square, NY!…here for the AMIS conference. Spent the day with an amazing (and anonymous, but not for too long) guitar collector. Friday I give my paper on HG organology…(making the world a safer place for harp guitars…).

  5. Steve Farmer Says:

    Silently staring with open mouth…

    And have fun on Friday!

  6. sb Says:


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