Francesco Paolo Tosti
• 1846 — 1916
Latest albums featuring Tosti as composer
In Italy and around the world, songs such as O Sole Mio and Santa Lucia epitomize the melodic beauty, tremendous passion, inimitable charm, and expressive spontaneity that constitute the essence of the Italian song. However, Neapolitans would beg to differ because these songs, and many others, exemplify la canzone napoletana, a genre that is neither pure folk music, for many of the songs are composed, nor pure art music, since the Neapolitan song draws on the region's rich folk tradition. Among the masters of the genre is Paolo Tosti, whose enchanting Lamento d'amore, Non m'ama piu, and L'alba separa dalla luce l'ombra remain in the repertoire of many noted singers, including Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras, and Andrea Bocelli. Born in 1846 in Ortona sul Mare in the Abruzzi region of Italy, Tosti began his academic musical studies in 1858 at the Naples Conservatory. Tosti's teachers included Saverio Mercandante, the eminent opera composer who recognized his young student's talent. After graduation, Tosti found employment as a tutor, but returned to Ortona in the late 1860s to recover from illness. Around this time, Tosti composed Lamento d'amore and Non m'amo piu, which eventually established his fame. In 1870, Tosti went to Rome, where he was an instant success. Having heard his music, Princess Margherita of Savoy, the future queen of Italy, asked Tosti to be her singing teacher. Despite his success in Rome, Tosti visited London in 1875 in an effort to forge a new career for himself in England. Tosti settled in London in 1880, immediately becoming the royal family's singing teacher. By that time, he had already written two popular English songs, "Forever" and "Goodbye." In 1894, he was appointed professor of singing at the Royal Academy of Music. Further accolades followed: Tosti became a British subject in 1906; two years later, he received the knighthood. In 1910, saddened by the death of King Edward VII, who had become a close friend, Tosti started thinking about returning to Italy. In 1912, Tosti returned to his homeland, settling in Rome, where he died in 1916. A prolific composer, his oeuvre including more than 300 songs, Tosti is remembered as a master of the ballad and for forging a distinctive style, which lesser composers have attempted to emulate.