HAPPENED TODAY - On December 7, 1887, the pianist and composer Ernst Toch was born in Leopoldstadt

Francesco Dillon

How did you choose to study the cello? Were there musicians in the family? How was your “musical” childhood?
I come from a family of art historians, passionate music lovers. From an early age, I was taken to the Opera: first at the Fenice (I grew up in Venice) and then at the Municipal Theatre of Florence. Needless to say that, for a few years, I slept, lulled by the notes that surrounded me. It is said, in the family, that the turning point was when I was eight, with a splendid Beethovenian Fidelio, who held me close from start to finish! I confess that when I enrolled in the Conservatory of Florence, my desire was to play the double bass, or the horn. In the 1980s, in Italy, it was not common for a 10-year-old to be able to start directly with one of these instruments, and I was advised to do two years of cello, then move on to the double bass class when I had grown up a bit. Needless to say, it never happened! I was more and more fascinated by the voice of this instrument, and I never abandoned it. Mine was a childhood where music has certainly played a fundamental role, but alongside figurative art (the family traveled regularly to visit exhibitions of all kinds), to reading (the home library was provided and has become well soon to be discovered), to the cinema and (needless to deny it!) to more “prosaic” interests such as football and … comics !! I believe that the sum of all these stimuli, of which I thank my parents, was fundamental for the type of musician I am today: in love with sounds, but thirsty and curious also towards other forms of art and creativity.

Can you tell us briefly about your studies? The Conservatory, the teachers who trained and, I believe, encouraged you. With which cellists did you then study to improve yourself? Can you tell us about the main details, also to understand their importance in your professional growth?
The first fundamental teacher was certainly that of the Conservatory years in Florence: Andrea Nannoni. He helped me develop my musical curiosities without foreclosures, sending me the precious lessons of bow technique learned at the school of André Navarra.  In parallel, and in the following years, I perfected myself with famous cellists such as Amedeo Baldovino – a man of extraordinary vitality, a witness of a great tradition that descended from MainardiMario Brunello – who supported me and always appreciated my musical research and David Geringas – thanks to which I worked a lot on the relaxation of the body, the executive rigor and the focus of the gestures. I cannot fail to mention a few more sporadic encounters in masterclasses which have been decisive for my journey – firstly two long summer courses with Jozif Levinson at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in the last years of the Soviet Union.

[to be continued]