Recently the mayor of Lucca, sindaco Alessandro Tambellini, inaugurated a statue in honour of Geminiani, famous violinist and baroque composer originating from the town. Strangely, the event was not given much publicity outside Lucca. Yet it well deserves some more attention.
The ancient town of Lucca has a hugely impressive musical history. Giacomo Puccini, Luigi Boccherini, Francesco Gasparini, or Alfredo Catalani, to name but a few, are amongst its famous sons. A bit of a mistery, and hard to explain. And the local Boccherini Istituto has become a very distinguised academy of music, organizing high quality concerts throughout the year, as does the renowned Puccini Centro. But Geminiani ? – a name even quite a few locals do not seem to be too familiar with.
As a fact, Geminiani was away from his native Lucca for most of his life, starting with a year in Naples, spending some 18 years in London, and another thirty in Dublin. Each of these periods of his life is quite well documented. We know, for instance, that when in London Geminiani was in close touch with Händel, or that in all those long years in Dublin he was also active as a publisher and traded in Italian paintings, a passion of his. Ironically, however, next to nothing seems to be known as to his stay in Lucca from 1709 until 1714, except for he fact that he had taken over his father’s position at the local Cappella Palatina. Five long years shrouded in mistery !! – a period somewhat reminiscent of Shakespeare’s so called ‚lost years’.
After his death in 1762 Geminiani was buried in Dublin, and it was only later that his mortal remains were taken to the church of San Franceso in Lucca. „Lunghi anni visse, e morì lontano dalla patria“, as the inscription reads. Very accurate, indeed!
Most aptly, the mayor spoke of the town’s duty to redress the neglect towards Geminiani in the long past. In his own words: “Un doveroso atto riparatore della città verso uno dei suoi più illustri figli”.
Hopefully, this may also serve as an incentive to shed some light on Geminiani’s ‚lost years’, those he spent in Lucca in the period mentioned.