The Baroque hurdy-gurdy. Francesco Giusta and Elena Buttiero from Italy to New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland

Sep 20, 2022 1221

On Saturday 8 October at 6pm an unusual tour of original Baroque music concerts for hurdy-gurdy and harpsichord will kick off in New York at Saint John's in the Village (218 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014). The program is entitled "The Baroque Hurdy-Gurdy at the French Royal Court" and the protagonists will be the Italian musicians Francesco Giusta at the hurdy-gurdy and Elena Buttiero at the harpsichord.

On the program pieces by Antonio Vivaldi, Charles Baton, Philibert de La Vigne, Nicolas Chédeville, Charles Buterne. Francesco Giusta is a virtuoso of the baroque hurdy-gurdy and plays an extraordinary instrument built by Pierre Louvet in 1754. The program presented is rarely performed with the original formation as the hurdy-gurdy, a very complex instrument, has few players in the world specialized in the classical repertoire.

The tour will then stop on October 12 at West Chester Univesity, PA, on October 13 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, MD, on October 16 at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Towson, MD, on October 17 at the Public Library in Savona ,NY and from 19 to 21 October at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY at the Maison Française and the Italian House.

For information and tickets:

It will be possible to view the New York concert also in streaming (live or deferred).

The recital

The period from 1720 to 1770 was the golden age of the hurdy gurdy / vielle a roue. It was in favour with nobility and royalty, and especially at the French court, where it was played by Queen Marie Leszcynska (wife of Louis XV) and her daughter Princess Adelaïde . This instrument became important to the aristocracy since, together with the ‘musette du court’ a bellows blown bagpipe) it embodied the idea of pastoral music and the myth of Arcadia. Builders from that era redesigned the instrument completely with new body shapes and defined the construction standards for it: the hurdy gurdy from now on was to have six strings and a lute or guitar shaped body. The popularity it obtained was such that French compositions for hurdy gurdy outnumbered those for violins and builders were adapting old guitars, lutes and theorbo bodies into hurdy gurdies in order to satisfy the high demand for instruments. 

The hurdy gurdy is a bowed instrument. Unlike the violin, which is from the same family, the hurdy gurdy doesn’t have a straight bow to play the strings but a round one, the wooden wheel, fitted inside the body and controlled with a crank on the right side of it. Among modern or old instruments, the hurdy gurdy stands as a unique case of multiple sounds combinations: it can simultaneously produce a melody, some accompaniment notes and a rhythmical base

Francesco Giusta takes interest in the hurdy-gurdy at the age of 11. He later improves and develops his technique with master players such as Gregory Jolivet, German Diaz, Matthias Loibner, Valentin Clastrier and Tobie Miller. He has played in several bands, amongst folk and early music, and has been guest of well-known groups as Lou Dalfin, Malanova and L’Orage. He has been to several folk and early music festivals and has held several workshops and masterclasses in Italy, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Netherland, UK, Finland and Spain. He recorded some CD’s, ‘En l’aire ailamont’ (2011) and ‘Podre’ (2013) with La Mesquia, ‘Balfolk’ (2014) with Trigomigo, ‘The Hurdy-Gurdy at the French Royal Court’ (2021) with his Baroque Duo and was a guest in ‘Bon Nadal Occitania’ (2009) with Sergio Berardo, ‘Cavalier Faidit’ (2011) with Lou Dalfin, ‘Santulubiranti’ (2015) with Malanova, ‘Medioevo Digitale’ (2019) with L’Orage. In 2015 he won the first price at the hurdy gurdy ‘solo’ competition at ‘Le son continu’ festival in Chateau d’Ars, France, getting the title of ‘Maître sonneur’. Since 2011 he has held regular masterclasses and courses as well as concerts with his projects. 

Elena Buttiero graduates in piano at the Turin’s Conservatoire ‘G. Verdi’, held concerts in several Italian cities, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Ireland, France, Romania, Serbia, United States, Canada, Tanzania, Argentine and Uruguay. She published two CD’s as harpist with Birkin Tree: Continental Reel and A Cheap present. With Carlo Aonzo she published Il mandolino italiano nel Settecento and Fantasia poetica. During 2009, the Duo was awarded with the Ligurian Region Price, Cultural section. On 2012 she published the CD Arethusa Consortium for two Celtic harps repertoire and plectrums, Saluti dall’Italia in 2013 and Lontano nel mondo in 2015 devoted to Luigi Tenco’s songs. In 2021 she publishes The Hurdy-Gurdy at the French Royal Court with her Baroque Duo and the CD Non sembiava imagine che tace dedicated to Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy with Anita Frumento (2022). In the didactic field she published for Carish/Hal Leonard editor solfege and piano methods.

These are the dates of the 2022 tour

Saturday  8 ottobre  NEW YORK

                                   Saint John’s in the Village Concert Series  at 6 pm

                                   218 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

Wednesday 12           WEST CHESTER, PA

                                   West Chester University,  French Department  at 6 pm

                                   700 S High St, West Chester, PA 19383

Thursday 13               BALTIMORE

                                   University of Maryland, Baltimore County  Concert Series at 7:30 pm

                                   Linehan Concert Hall,  1000 Hilltop Circle - Baltimore, MD 21250

Sunday 16                  TOWSON, MD

                                   Immaculate Heart of Mary Concert Series, at 4 pm

                                   8501 Loch Raven Blvd, Towson, MD 21286

Monday 17                 SAVONA, NY

                                   Public Library ore 5,30pm

                                   7 McCoy St, Savona, NY 14879

Wednesday 19           ROCHESTER, NY 

                                   Nazareth College  French Department and Maison Française

                                    4245 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618

Thursday 20               ROCHESTER, NY 

                                  Nazareth College  Casa Italiana

Friday 21                   ROCHESTER, NY  

                                   Nazareth College Italian Department


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