Published for the first time the handwritten autobiography of the Roman Francesco Massonetti (1659-1729),

preserved in the National Central Library of Rome. An unprecedented and valuable insight into everyday Roman life,

also a caricature of Ghezzi proves.

On Sunday September 25 at the National Central Library of Rome the presentation of the book by Giancarlo Rostirolla

(Ibimus, 2021)

After the summer break, the activity of theIbimus – Institute for Music Bibliography which from October to December presents a number of initiatives in the musical goods sector, which are available to the public at its headquarters in National Central Library of Rome (Viale Castro Pretorio 105).

As part of the European Heritage Days, Sunday 25 Septemberon the day that the library remains open, the presentation of the volume will be held at 11 a.m. in the Sala Macchia Music, medicine, court chronicles at the time of Arcangelo Corelli. The Roman Diary of GA Francesco Massonetti (1659-1729) edited by Giancarlo Rostirolla (Rome, Ibimus, 2021). Salvatore de Salvo Fattor, president of Ibimus and Flora Parisi, director of the State Medical Library, will participate in the presentation together with the curator.

For the first time, the interesting autobiography preserved in manuscript in the Central Library of Rome by the Roman Francesco Massonetti is published in its entirety, a single figure in which three parallel lives come together – Choir singer, doctor and chronicler -, lived between the second half of the seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth. A valuable testimony that came to light in 2007 through the study of researchers Livia Martinoli Santini and Candida Santoro, which is also a cross-section of everyday Roman life in the 17th century. “The importance of autobiographical writing – says Rostirolla -, belongs to the literary genre of the baroque diaristic, lies above all in the musical context that characterizes the first decades of the life of the character in question. The chronicle about Massonetti’s scholastic and professional training represents perhaps the most significant testimony that music history knows about the social context and about the ways in which a musically talented young man, especially in singing, was initiated into the profession of music. But even more curious. are the biographical details that refer to a specific educational and career perspective, that is that of the world of the so-called “white voices” and castrati “.

The diary is also a valuable testimony to the history of the medical profession, since at a certain point in his life Massonetti was oriented towards the surgical profession, working for many years at the Santo Spirito Hospital in Saxia following important personalities in the sector.

Another interesting aspect is the most striking part dedicated to his “third” profession, evidently starting at an age in which the singer’s vocal abilities failed, or that of the chronicler or diarist of the great historical and liturgical events that papal court of Rome are connected. . Pier Leone Ghezzi which Massonetti immortalized in one of his famous caricatures, as he recalls in the caption of his 1729 drawing: “Signor Massonetti, a public musician, but a famous novelist and so devoted to genius, that for a new year it would have gone from Santa Maria Maggiore to San Paolo; and makes the newspaper of everything that happens in Rome. He continued to walk when Pope Pignatelli was in Corneto. Finally, it is especially in this genre. Made by me Cavalier Ghezzi on June 27, 1729. [aggiunta] The summer goes without a break […]”.

The volume concludes with a useful appendix that collects thirty-two profiles of composers, singers and cantors of the Roman music world in Massonetti’s time.

Info: Tel. +39 371 1624313, 351 6786288,,

Attached is a photograph of the caricature of Francesco Massonetti by Pier Leone Ghezzi

Leave a Comment