LAST MODIFIED Wednesday 15 November 2017 16:50

Spagnoletti family

Dr GRAEME SKINNER (University of Sydney)


To cite this:

Graeme Skinner (University of Sydney), "Spagnoletti family", Australharmony (an online resource toward the history of music and musicians in colonial and early Federation Australia):; accessed 14 December 2017


Some small confusion remains in conclusively separating the works of the Ernesto senior and Ernesto junior. A few months after Ernesto senior's death, a notice of publication of Ernesto junior's new composition, the St. Leonard's Schottische, by J. R. Clarke, gives a retrospective list of works by E. Spagnoletti, junior understood, that includes a few items that are either certainly or likely to be by Ernesto senior. Ernesto senior's more famous father, Paolo Spagnoletti, was frequently mentioned in the Australian press; his pupil, amateur violinist George Boyes, came to Australia in 1824.


"SIGNOR SPAGNOLETTI", The Sydney Monitor (14 March 1835), 4 

[Advertisement], Bell's Life in Sydney (11 October 1862), 3


SPAGNOLETTI, Ernesto Domenico (DIANA) (senior)

Professor of music, vocalist, organist, composer

Born London, 1804, only son of Paolo Spagnoletti (1768-1834)
Arrived Sydney, NSW, by October 1853
Died Sydney, NSW, 28 September 1862, aged 58 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony) (NLA persistent identifier)



The Jurist 18/1 (1855), 57-58 

... On the Ground that they would be prima facie Evidence in an Action which had been brought against Defendant for publishing the Pieces of Music mentioned in them, alleged to be the Copyright of Plaintiff, the Court (Plaintiff refusing to consent not to use the Entries on the Trial of the Action) declined to expunge the Entries, but directed an Issue whether there was Copyright in the Music, and whether Plaintiff was the Proprietor of the Copyright, on the Trial of which they should not be used; and ordered that the Rule should be enlarged until the Trial of the Issue. Willes (May 23) moved for a rule calling upon Robert Cocks to shew cause why three entries by him in the book of registry kept at Stationers' Hall, under sect. 11 of stat. 5 & 6 Vict. c. 45, should not be expunged or varied. It appeared from the affidavits that the entries in question, which were in the form No. 3 in the schedule to stat. 5 & 6 Wict. c. 45, were first, an entry made on the 6th October, 1848, which stated that Robert Cocks was the proprietor of the copyright of a musical piece called "The Lancers' Quadrilles," first published by himself on the 6th October, 1848; secondly, an entry made on the 29th June, 1847, by which F. Yaniewicz, professing to be the author of a musical piece called "A Polish Rondo," accepted the benefit of the extension of copyright, under stat. 5 & 6 Vict. c. 45, and declared the copyright to be the property of J. Willis; and, thirdly, an entry made on the 26th February, 1853, by which E. Spagnoletti, professing to be the author of a musical piece called "La Dorset," accepted the extension of copyright, under stat. 5 & 6 Wict. c. 45, and declared Robert Cocks to be the owner of the copyright. An action had been commenced by Cocks, who had purchased Willis's right to the air mentioned in the second entry, against Davidson, for publishing the three airs, but the defendant had not pleaded. An affidavit of Davidson stated his belief that the three airs were old; that the first was not published by Cocks in 1848, and that neither Yaniewicz nor E. Spagnoletti were the authors of the airs; that one of those airs was in the Beggars' Opera; and a printed sheet of music, purporting to be a copy of the second air, which was published in 1817, at a time when E. Spagnoletti was not ten years old, was attached to his affidavit; and that the author of the air was his father ...

"SIGNOR SPAGNOLETTI", The Sydney Monitor (14 March 1835) 4

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (20 August 1853), 6 

MUSIC. - SPAGNOLETTI, from England, of Her Majesty's Theatre, and Professor of the Royal Academy of Music, begs to acquaint the public that he gives lessons in Italian and English Singing and Piano. Families or Schools, in or out of town, attended on moderate terms Address by letter post-paid, to Mr. JAMES W. WAUGH, No. 14, Hunter-street; or to HENRY MARSH AND CO., 490½, George-street. 6494

"TO THE EDITOR", Empire (6 February 1861), 2

TO THE EDITOR OF THE EMPIRE. SIR,-In a lengthy notice which appeared in your Monday's issue, relative to musical matters, your reviewer in his friendly comments, appertaining to one of my recent compositions, asks, if "I ever had the benefit of sponsors." For the satisfaction of your critic, allow me to remark, that my godfather was no less a personage than the well-known Dragonetti, whether this circumstance (musically speaking) has been of benefit to me, modesty will scarcely allow one to give forth an opinion; but of such a sponsor, I certainly think I may be pardoned in feeling somewhat proud, and assuredly I shall ever regard his memory with feelings of respect and admiration. I am your most obedient, ERNESTO DOMINICO SPAGNOLETTI, R.A. Balmain, February 5th.

"DEATHS", The Sydney Morning Herald (29 September 1862), 1

"THE LATE ERNESTO SPAGNOLETTI", The Sydney Morning Herald (7 October 1862), 4

This professor of vocal and instrumental music, after a sudden and painful attack of gout in the chest, died on Sunday, the 28th ultimo, at his residence on the Glebe Road. At an early age he commenced his musical education under his father, who was then leader of the Italian Opera house, London. He afterwards became a member of the Royal Academy of Music, and studied under Sir Henry Bishop and other leading members of that institution. Signor Spagnoletti was a great favourite with the president of the Royal Academy, the Earl of Westmoreland, then Lord Burghersh, himself an accomplished musician, and composer of several successful works; and under that nobleman's patronage he made his first appearance at the Italian Opera in Mozart's Don Giovanni, and was very cordially received by the most aristocratic audience in England. After the close of the season he joined an opera company formed by Bochsa, which during the recess made a highly successful tour through all the chief towns of the United Kingdom. About ten years ago Signor Spagnoletti arrived with his family in Sydney, where he pursued his profession to advantage, being up to the time of his death organist at St. John's, Bishopthorpe. His grave in the Newtown cemetery is between that of Bochsa, his preceptor at the Royal Academy, and his fellow-pupil, Lavenu, and, by a melancholy coincidence, he visited the opera only a few evenings before his death to hear the music of Don Giovanni, in which, as above stated, he made his first appearance in London. His son Ernesto has taken his father's place at St. John's, and, as an accomplished musician, will continue the duties of teacher of singing and instrumental music. Signor Spagnoletti had also another so in England, of whose ability report speaks highly.   

"MR. ERNEST SPAGNOLETTI", The Sydney Morning Herald (11 October 1862), 5

Musical works (England; Australia pre-1853):

New Quadrilles ... the music by Yaniewicz and Spagnoletti. The figures by Mr. Duval. To which is added a new Waltz [The Countess of Farnham's] by Spagnoletti (Dublin: J. Willis, [1817])

L'Allegria, a first set of quadrilles for the Pianoforte by Ernesto D. Spagnoletti (1822); (copy at London, British Library)

Le Printemps, second set of quadrilles for the Piano Forte by Ernesto D. Spagnoletti (1823); (BL)

Yes! I'll go with you my Love, a reply to The Deep, deep Sea [by C. E. Horn], written by Mrs. C. R. Huxley (1832); (BL)

Io credea contento, a Canzonet, by Ernesto D. Spagnoletti (1832); (BL)

The Lancers' quadrilles [Duval of Dublin's second set) containing ... La Dorset [Spagnoletti] as danced at Almack's, London, to which is added a new waltz by Sig[no]r Spagnoletti, and the Stop waltz (Sydney: F. Ellard, [1839]) 

Ernesto Spagnoletti was only 12 or 13 years old when the two dances ascribed to "Spagnoletti" first appeared in print, a Dublin edition advertised on 22 April 1817 being perhaps the earliest; ordinarily, and most likely, the ascription was to taken to be to his father Paolo Spagnoletti; Ernesto's later claim to be the "author" of "La Dorset" may simply reflect the fact that he believed himself to have inherited the copyright; however, the possibility that he had some original claim, to have been a co-creator with his father, cannot be absolutely ruled out.

Spagnoletti's Valses "The Sisters," for the Piano Forte (1848); (BL)

Spagnoletti's new year's Polka, by Ernesto D. Spagnoletti (1849); (BL)

Other editions of the Lancers set: 

Modern downloadable editions with sound files (MIDI):

"La Dorset", 

"Countess of Farnham's Waltz", 

Bibliography and resources:

Paul Cooper, "The Lancers Quadrilles", Regency Dances 


SPAGNOLETTI, Ernesto (junior)

Professor of music, composer

Born London, 1837
Died NSW, 1871 (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


"INSOLVENCY COURT", Empire (29 July 1864), 5

Ernesto Spagnoletti, of H.M. gaol, at Darlinghurst, late of Glebe, musician. Liabilities, £40 3s. Assets, £3. Deficit, £35 3s. Official assignee, Mr. Meckenzie.

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (26 July 1867), 8

SPAGNOLETTI, a name known to the musical world for 100 years, second to none. TUNING, Repairing, and Instruction in MUSIC and SINGING ...

"SPAGNOLETTI V. SIMPSON", The Sydney Morning Herald (30 December 1868), 2

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (18 September 1869), 1

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (4 February 1871), 8

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (31 May 1871), 1

ERNESTO SPAGNOLETTI, Professor of Singing and Piano, 160, Forbes street, Woolloomooloo.


Amateur male vocalist

Active Sydney, NSW, 1859 (? son of Ernesto Spagnoletti, senior)
? Departed, before 1862 (see Ernesto Spagnoletti obituary above)


[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (16 September 1859), 1

[Advertisement], Empire (17 September 1859), 1


Soprano vocalist

Arrived Sydney, NSW, by October 1853 (daughter of Ernesto Spagnoletti, senior)
Departed Sydney, NSW, 1 April 1865 (per Orwell, for London) (TROVE tagged by Australharmony)


At the Sydney University Musical Festival in July 1859, "A duett from Don Giovanni, La ci darem, sung by Mr. and Miss Spagnoletti, was very much admired". At Mrs. Chester's farewell concert in November, "Miss Nina Spagnoletti in Linley's ballad of Ever of thee, charmingly executed, and wisely substituted for the hacknied [sic] scena from "Robert le Diable", the vocalist giving for the encore Wrighton's Sweet home, equally well sung." On publication in 1861, Charles Harwood dedicated his song Thinkest thou of me? to her. Nina and her widowed mother sailed for England in April 1865.


[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (6 July 1859), 1

"SYDNEY UNIVERSITY FESTIVAL. EXTRA CONCERT", The Sydney Morning Herald (1 August 1859), 5

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (16 September 1859), 1

"SPAGNOLETTI'S CONCERT", The Australian Home Companion (24 September 1859), 24

[Advertisement], The Sydney Morning Herald (27 October 1859), 1

"CONCERT", The Sydney Morning Herald (28 October 1859), 4

[News], Empire (24 November 1859), 4

"ENTERTAINMENT AT ST. PHILIP'S SCHOOLROOM", Empire (11 November 1863), 4

[Advertisement], The Maitland Mercury (7 March 1865), 1

"COMPLIMENTARY CONCERT TO MISS SPAGNOLETTI", The Maitland Mercury (11 March 1865), 2

"DEPARTURES FOR LONDON", The Sydney Morning Herald (21 April 1865), 9

See also:

Charles Spagnoletti (1832-1915), eldest son of Ernesto senior 

© Graeme Skinner 2014 - 2017