Milan Conservatory

Bottesini entered the Conservatory at age 11. There were at the time only two openings: One for Bassoon, one for Double Bass. The young Bottesini had asked for a Bassoon, but his mother refused, on the grounds that the instrument would cause demon possession.

So a servicable Contrabass was borrowed from the church in Crema and Giovanni went with his father to Milan.

The audition was a disaster. But Bottesini -- only a boy -- boldly said:

"I know sir, that I have played out of tune, but when I learn where to place my fingers, this shall no longer happen."

He was awarded the Contrabass scholarship on the spot.

The deep wisdom embodied in this prophetic statement serves to guide us all -- especially Bass players. Who else could have cut through all the confusion, the technique, the controversy, the emotionally charged issues of success or failure in music with one ringing and undeniably true sentence?

Bottesini quickly did learn where to place his fingers under Maestro Luigi Rossi, and after three short years, he burst forth on the music world with a triumphant series of concerts in Vienna.

The spirit that moved him to preternatural wisdom shine through abundantly in his seminal Metodo Completo for Bassists.

See a strange biography-in-progress for a novelized account of the closing days of Bottesini's Conservatory sojourn.

See also Bottesini's most likely last words.

"We all must learn where to place our fingers."
© 1997, Jeff Brooks (