Amilcare Ponchielli (August 31, 1834 ? January 17, 1886) was an Italian composer, largely of operas.
Born in Paderno Fasolaro, now Paderno Ponchielli, near Cremona, Ponchielli won a scholarship at the age of nine to study music at the Milan Conservatory, writing his first symphony by the time he was ten years old.
Two years after leaving the conservatory he wrote his first opera -- it was based on Alessandro Manzoni's great novel I promessi sposi (The Betrothed) -- and it was as an opera composer that he eventually found fame.
His early career was disappointing. Maneuvered out of a professorship at the Milan Conservatory that he had won in a competition, he took small-time jobs in small cities. The turning point was the success of his revised version of I promessi sposi in 1872, which brought him a contract with the music publisher G. Ricordi & Co. and the musical establishment at the Conservatory and at La Scala. The ballet Le due gemelle (1873) confirmed his success.
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