Tag Archives: opera

Vincent Bavetta Collection, circa 1909-1940s

Vincenzo (Vincent) Bavetta, Jr. was born on Feb. 27, 1879 in Agrigento, Sicily. One of four children, he moved to America with his family in 1889 and later became a naturalized citizen in 1894. Between October 1900 and January 1901 Bavetta studied composition with noted composer Edward MacDowell at Columbia University in New York City. Around 1905, Vincent and his two brothers Vito and Anthony became involved in the Brooklyn Marine Band for which Vincent wrote the band’s arrangements and original music. Later, the Bavetta brothers formed their own professional band named, “V[ito]. Bavetta’s Concert Band”. The bands played regularly at Dreamland at Coney Island, Luna Park in Brooklyn, and the Hotel Riccadonna at Brighton Beach. In 1927, Vincent began working at St. John’s University, reviving the college’s long-dormant orchestra. By 1930, the orchestra grew from an extracurricular activity to a fully accredited course. He continued to teach at St. John’s until 1932. In the late 1950’s, Vincent and his wife moved from Brooklyn to Wantagh, Long Island where he died in 1965.

Vincent Bavetta’s unfinished five-part opera centers on the story of Pygmalion (King of Cyprus) who cannot find love because he has studied women and finds them vain and loquacious. His only joy in life is the statue that he created, wishing her warm and alive. The statue speaks, telling him not to blaspheme for fear of punishment by the gods. Pygmalion asks the statue to speak again, saying he doesn’t care about the gods’ punishment. Bavetta likely worked on this piece after his time at St. John’s, possibly in the late 1930s-1940s.  Also included are several photographs of the Brooklyn Marine Band at Coney Island in 1910, when Vincent Bavetta was the conductor.

Finding Aid (PDF)

Bavetta Marine Band, Brooklyn


Exhibitions: Notable Selections: An Exhibition of Music in the St. John’s University Archives and Special Collections

April 11, 2014 – May 9, 2014
St. Augustine Hall, 3rd Floor

music exhibitThis exhibition showcases the history of music at St. John’s, including a pamphlet (c.1909-1912) that give a description of the music courses offered for adults and children at the time, a Glee Club record album, and pictures from a James Taylor concert in the 80’s. Also included are a variety of items from Special Collections, from historical children’s books with nursery rhymes and songs, to operas and illustrated collections of famous songs and composers. All of these and more music-related books and historical materials are available for research in the St. John’s University Archives and Special Collections.