Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Spagnoletti, Ernesto

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Spagnoletti, Ernesto

[media]Two musicians by the name of Ernesto Spagnoletti, father and son, were prominent in the musical life of Sydney in the 1850s.

The elder Spagnoletti entered London's Royal Academy of Music in 1825, where his father, Paolo Spagnoletti, taught violin. He himself was a student of Henry Bishop and harpist Nicholas Bochsa, and a fellow student of Anna Bishop.

Spagnoletti and his wife Charlotte, together with their six children, arrived in Sydney in August 1853. He started taking pupils in Italian and English, singing and piano, and was appointed choirmaster at St Stephen's Church, Newtown. Having performed with Anna Bishop and Nicholas Bochsa in their Sydney concerts in December 1855, he also presided over the music at Bochsa's funeral in January 1856.

Many of Spagnoletti's compositions were published in Sydney, sometimes along with those of his father. Among these, his Woolloomooloo Octave Polka was 'dedicated to the ladies of Woolloomooloo'. 'An Australian Lady' (singer Jane Messiter)[1] wrote the words for his Cooey! An Australian Song.

[media]In 1857, a Balmain Polka 'dedicated to the ladies of Balmain' was published, again ascribed to E Spagnoletti, though this may have been his son, Ernesto junior, then aged 20.


'Ernesto Spagnoletti', MusicAustralia website, http://www.musicaustralia.org, viewed 23 January 2009


This entry was revised in November 2018 to correct the name of the lyricist of Cooey! An Australian Song, previously thought to have been the poet Louisa Atkinson.
[1] Graeme Skinner, Spagnoletti Family, Austral Harmony website http://sydney.edu.au/paradisec/australharmony/spagnoletti.php#music-ss-1860-cooey viewed 21 November 2018