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L-R: Fantini, Abbado, and Mario Gusella in 1956 (PC: Teatro alla Scala/Erio Piccagliani)

La Scala’s Former Concertmaster Franco Fantini has Died, Aged 99

Fantini played with the La Scala orchestra for over 40 years 


Born in 1925, Franco Fantini studied violin with Enrico Polo and Michelangelo Abbado at the Milan Conservatory and completed his first-class diploma from a very young age. 

He joined the Teatro alla Scala Orchestra as a tutti violinist in 1942 at age 17, before winning its concertmaster position in 1954. Fantini was also the first violinist of the Quartetto della Scala for 15 years.

His four-decade career in the La Scala orchestra from 1954 to 1993 included working with conductors such as Arturo Toscanini, Claudio Abbado, Victor de Sabata, Herbert von Karajan, Carlo Maria Giulini, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Riccardo Muti, and Riccardo Chailly. 

Additionally, he served as a jury member of the Premio Paganini competition; plus, was a member of the Solisti di Milano ensemble conducted by Angelo Ephrikian, the Solisti della Scala led by Abbado, and the Virtuosi di Roma directed by Angelo Stefanato.

In 2019, Fantini published a volume of memoirs with De Ferrari Editore collected by his daughter, entitled “Una vita in Scala.” 

In the preface of the publication, Chailly recalls working with Fantini as “an artistic collaboration as profound and prolonged as that which characterizes music which imposes musical contact beat by beat for hours and hours, being able to rely on such an expert and reliable shoulder, so cultured by virtue of the experience accumulated throughout his life, was an absolutely important support for a director.”

“The colleagues of the Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala, together with the Superintendent Dominique Meyer, the Musical Director Riccardo Chailly and all the workers of the Theater remember Franco Fantini — legendary supporter of the Orchestra for forty years,” La Scala wrote in a tribute

Mr. Fantini’s funeral was held at the Parish of San Giovanni Battista. Our condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

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