Musical Espionage – Cambini


GUISEPPE CAMBINI (1746 – 1825) was an elusive character, possibly even a “shady” character.   Consider:   his use of multiple names; the uncertainty of his birth and death dates; his self-promoting & fanciful myths (dramatic capture and abuse by pirates; rescue by a rich Venetian);  his outright duplicity about early relationships with known musical figures, including Haydn; and his easy adoption of new genres to achieve popularity….the symphonie concertant, for example, which got him noticed on the art-music scene in Paris during the 1770’s.  He was prolific, no doubt, writing more than 80 symphonie concertantes, PLUS 9 symphonies, 17 concertos and over 100 string quintets.  He also wrote three wind quintets, a very minor part of his huge output.  His crowning deceit came in 1778 when Cambini allegedly colluded to block the performance of a new symphony concertante by Amadeus Mozart (KV287b for flute, oboe, horn and bassoon).  Mozart wrote to his father about the planned performance at the Concert Spirituel….but Cambini persuaded the concert director (Joseph Le Gros) in favour of a work by Cambini himself!  At least that is Mozart’s version.  The Mozart autograph “disappeared” and has never been recovered.  So my question is this:  Would you vote for this man???

Cambini    ?1746-1825?

This note is based on the following Web articles:


“The Search for Cambini”. 25.02.2016; “Guiseppe Maria Gioacchino Cambini”. 25.02.2016; “Guiseppe Cambini”. 25.02.2016** **Refers to the 1969 anti-Nixon presidential campaign slogan.

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