|Gaspare Spontini : Fugue Exposition, Naples, ca. 1796|
Gaspare Spontini (1774–1851) was born in Italy and entered the Conservatorio di Santa Maria della Pietà dei Turchini at Naples in 1793. Age 19 was quite old for admission, and he probably only stayed at the conservatory three years before beginning his career as an opera composer. His lasting fame came later in Paris and Berlin, where he was a major figure in Grand Opera and the new career of conducting.
The modern Naples Conservatory has preserved his examination in fugue, the jurors being Nicola Sala, Giacomo Tritto, and Salini. This examination took place place on August 5 and was for the purpose of qualifying as a mastricello (little master), meaning a teaching assistant.
Spontini wrote his fugal exposition in the key of F major. The initial subject appears with a countersubject. Thus the answer enters as the third voice in play. Many of Handel’s fugues follow a similar practice, though it is relatively rare in the fugues of J. S. Bach.
The jurors marked three errors, labeled “1, 2, 3,” with each number underlined twice for emphasis. The present edition further highlights these marks by circling them in yellow. You may click within those circles to reveal the contrapuntal sin as described by the jury. On the original fair-copy manuscript, the errors were detailed at the bottom of the page in the form of footnotes. The reader may wish to attempt his or her own corrections of Spontini’s errors. The editor’s attempt can be seen by clicking the forward page-turn button at the bottom of the score. By the way, Spontini failed the examination.