RAFFAELE CALACE (1863 - 1934)
Raffaele Calace was born in Naples in 1863 into a family of established mandolin and guitar makers. Raffaele and his brother were encouraged from an early age to follow into the family business. Both also became talented players and composers. Raffaele excelled in all three pursuits. He studied composition at the Regio Conservatorio di Musica in Naples and graduated with distinction. He then set about putting the mandolin into what he considered to be its rightful place amongst the musical circles of the world.
Raffaele Calace was a player of incredible virtuosity. He took mandolin techniques to new levels and was greatly admired for his expressive and beautiful playing. He travelled the world playing, frequently performing his own music. Among his most notable visits was a tour in Japan in 1924/5 when he played to the Emperor and was awarded 'The Third Order of the Sacred Treasure'. Calace’s many works for mandolin and piano are part of his output of over 170 pieces for mandolin, in which he frequently pushed the mandolin to its limits. As a mandolin maker he was pivotal in increasing the range of the instrument up to a’’’’ by extending the fingerboard over the sound hole. As a player he made full use of this extended range as well as developing and perfecting techniques that gave the mandolin more dimensions and allowed for huge ranges in dynamic and tonal contrasts.