Aspects of Italian and American History

Italians in Music and Performing Arts

In the early 18th century, few Italian musicians came to America. Some held concerts throughout the colonies, exposing colonists to the world of Italian music. Some became teachers, sharing many of the techniques they learned in Italy. Singer Francis Alberti, who was Mrs. Jefferson’s music teacher, also performed for many of the colonists, including George Washington!

Decades later, Italian musicians would come to America in greater numbers. Many of them lived and performed in New Orleans. Tommaso Traetta, co-founded of the American Conservatory of Boston in 1801 and later managed the Italian Theater of New Orleans. He was also a friend of Presidents Madison and Monroe. Henri Corri was an active player in the Canal Street (New Orleans) music scene, where Dominick La Rocca would later launch the world of Jazz.