Leone Sinigaglia
(born Turin, 14 August 1868; died Turin, 16 May 1944)
Italian composer and mountaineer.


Born into a prominent upper middle class family, Sinigaglia grew up in Turin. He knew the leading figures of thought, arts and science that lived in the city at the time, such as Galileo Ferraris, Cesare Lombroso, and Leonardo Bistolfi. A lover of literature and mountaineering from an early age, the young Sinigaglia spent many holidays in or near Cavoretto, just outside the city, a place that would provide him with much inspiration. Among the works composed in these Turinese years are the Romanza opus 3 for horn and string quartet. (This has been recorded in an arrangement for horn and string orchestra.)

In 1888 Sinigaglia began to travel: after spells in several European cities, from 1894 he lived in Vienna, where he associated with Johannes Brahms from whom he developed a taste for so-called absolute music, studying with Eusebius Mandyczewski. In these years he wrote several Lieder and the Concerto for violin and orchestra, opus 20.

From 1900 he worked in Prague with Antonín Dvořák (whom he possibly met through his friendship with the Bohemian Quartet in Vienna). From Dvořák he learned the ability to apply classical techniques to the arrangement of popular songs.

His productivity diminished progressively in the following decades, during which European music underwent far-reaching changes. He died  at Mauriziano Hospital on 16 may 1944, during the Second World War, in tragic circumstances: his Jewish origins made him subject to the persecutions of the Nazi police who occupied Turin during 1944; despite his 75 years he was to be sent to Germany as slave labour, but suffered a fatal heart attack at the moment of his arrest.


Sinigaglia was a keen mountain climber in his youth, amassing an impressive catalogue of ascents in the Dolomites. He has been described as "the first great Italian climber in the Dolomites". Two of his most famous climbs were first ascents on Croda Da Lago and Monte Cristallo. His book, Climbing reminiscences of the Dolomites , was published in English in 1898, shortly after the Italian edition, and is still regarded as a classic of climbing literature.


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In the ten years that followed his return to Turin in 1901, Sinigaglia transcribed an enormous amount of popular song from from the oral tradition, largely collected on the hills of Cavoretto. Many of these were arranged for singer and pianoforte in a style that is reminiscent of the German songs of the late nineteenth century: they include a set of twelve Old popular songs of Piedmont (published initially in Lipsia by Breitkopf & Härtel, 1914; a third and fourth edition were published in 1921, and a fifth and sixth in 1927). As well as this collection, for which Sinigaglia's name is still remembered today, his other compositions of the same period show a deep love for the musical spirit of his native region, as for example in the two Piedmontese Dances opus 31 (1905) and the Suite for “Piemonte” (1909). Both of these are closely identified with the name of Arturo Toscanini, who performed them frequently.

It was not only ethnically-inspired works that resulted from these happy years: the overture to The Chiozzotte Quarrels (1907), as well as the Piedmontese works, were directed by conductors of the calibre of Wilhelm Furtwängler and John Barbirolli. Among his chamber works that are still remembered are the two sonatas, opus 41 for cello and pianoforte, and opus 44 for violin and pianoforte.

op. 1 Nr. 1
Nr. 2
Nr. 3 Ironie d'Avril, for voice & piano
Nr. 4 Il pleure dans mon coeur, for voice & piano
op. 3 Romance for horn & string quartet (1889)
  Romance pour violon et orchestre (1899)
op. 5 Etude de Concert [Konzert-Etüde] for String Quartet
  Variations sur un thème de Brahms pour quatuor à cordes (1901)
op. 13 Drei romantische Stücke für Violine mit Clavierbegleitung (Three Romantic pieces for violin with piano accompaniment)) 1902, Wilhelm Hansen
Nr. 1 Cavatina
Nr. 2
Nr. 3
op. 14  
op. 15 Lieder (4) for voice & piano
op. 16 Pieces for violoncello and piano
Nr. 1 Romanze h-moll
Nr. 2 Humoreske
op. 17 Lieder (3) aus Rudolf Baumbach's "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen", for voice & piano
op. 18  
op. 19 Twelve variations on a theme by Franz Schubert, for oboe and piano
op. 20 Violin Concerto in A Major, Op.20 (1901) "to Arrigo Serato"
I. Allegro risoluto
II. Adagio
III. Allegro vivo e con grazia
op. 21 Adagio tragico for String orchestra (recorded by Jiri Starek and the RIAS Sinfonietta on Koch Schwann)
op. 22  
op. 23 Lieder (3)
op. 24  
op. 25 Vier kleine Stücke
Nr. 1 Albumblatt
Nr. 2 Capriccio all'antica
Nr. 3 Bagatelle
Nr. 4 Saltarello
op. 26 Rapsodia piemontese pour violon et orchestre (1900)
op. 27 String quartet in D major (1906, Breitkopf & Härtel)
op. 28 Pieces for horn and piano (recorded by Frøydis Ree Wekre, horn and Zita Carno, piano on a Crystal Records LP, transferred to CD.)
1. Lied and Humoreske
op. 29 Romanze A-Dur
op. 30  
op. 31 Danze piemontesi sopra temi popolari for orchestra (2) 1905
op. 32 Ouvertüre zu Goldonis Lustspiel Le Baruffe Chiozzotte - The Chiozzotte Quarrels (1907, Breitkopf & Härtel)
op. 33 Serenade für Streichtrio (1906)
op. 34 Canzoni (4), for voice & piano
op. 35 Two Character Pieces for string orchestra
op. 36 Suite for orchestra “Piemonte” (1909)
op. 37 Canti (3), for voice & piano
op. 38 Lamento in memoria di un giovane artista (Natale Canti) (1930, Breitkopf & Härtel)
op. 39  
op. 40B Diciotto Vecchie Canzoni Popolari del Piemonte
op. 41 Sonata for cello and pianoforte (1925)
op. 42 Rondo
op. 43  
op. 44 Sonata for violin and pianoforte (1936)

Vocal Music

Ave Maria, for voice & piano
Chanson très vielle, for voice & piano
Mater Dolorosa, for voice & piano
Montanina, for voice & piano
Notturno, for voice & piano
Serenata Provenzale, for voice & piano
Diciotto Vecchie Canzoni Popolari del Piemonte Op. 40B
  1. Pastora fedele
  2. Il cacciatore del bosco
  3. Il maritino
  4. Verdolin verdolinetto
  5. Ninetta
  6. Maria catlina
  7. Le tre comari
  8. La Brandolina
  9. La bella al molino
10. La pastora e il lupo
11. La scelta felice
12. Le nozze dell'alpigiano
13. Il pellegrino di S. Giacomo
14. Ninna nanna di Gesù Bambino
15. Fiore di tomba
16. Invito alla danza
17. La violetta
18. Il reggimento Savoia

Violin Concerto in A Major, Op.20 "to Arrigo Serato" (1901)
Laura MARZADORI, violin
Orchestra Città di Ferrara
Marco ZUCCARINI, conductor
Teatro Comunale of Ferrara
January 15,2013