Giardini (Degiardino), Felice De
b Turin, Italy 1716, d Moscow 1796. At school in Milan; he was a Cathedral chorister and youthful violinist, studying singing and composing for the harpsichord. On returning to Turin he had further study on the violin, playing in the opera Rome and Naples. In 1750 he came to England via Berlin and France to teach. He gave solo violin recitals and accompanied the Italian Opera at the King’s Theatre, a connection which lasted for 30 years. The Countess of Huntingdon persuaded him to write 4 tunes for the hymnal being compiled by Martin Madan, chaplain to the Lock Hospital; his links here continued from 1752 to 1780. Occasionally he was able to play in a string quartet with Madan, Thos Haweis (see author Index) and Anthony Shepherd, the evangelical Prof of Astronomy at Cambridge and the King’s Master of Mechanics. Giardini too had various royal appointments, and became a governor and organist at the Foundling Hospital (see entry in Authors’ index; also under T Haweis), where his oratorio Ruth, with libretto by Haweis, was first performed. He left England in 1784, not helped by those who tried to set his performances against Haydn’s, but by the time of his return in 1790 his fame had waned. He went to St Petersburg in 1792, and spent his final years in poverty and bitterness in Moscow. No.158.