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Child Composers in the Old ConservatoriesHow Orphans Became Elite Musicians$
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Robert O. Gjerdingen

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190653590

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190653590.001.0001

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Little Masters, Real Masters, and Masterpieces

Little Masters, Real Masters, and Masterpieces

(p.179) 13 Little Masters, Real Masters, and Masterpieces
Child Composers in the Old Conservatories

Robert O. Gjerdingen

Oxford University Press

In the world of apprentices, journeymen, and masters, a masterpiece was a test piece completed as part of a claim to a master’s level of skill and status. In formal guilds there could be elaborate examinations, in which submitting a masterpiece was part of the process. In the Naples conservatories, advanced students could compose a large sacred work for chorus and instruments to demonstrate a professional level of skill. In between the masters who gave lessons to the conservatory children and the child apprentices who learned those lessons were a middle level of teaching assistants called “little masters” (mastricelli or maestrini). These were selected from advanced students who had passed qualifying examinations.

Keywords:   Antonio Sacchini, Masterpiece, Guilds, Gaspare Spontini, Benigno Zerafa, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

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