In 1945 composer and concert pianist, Francesco Ticciati, was lodging in Chestnut Close. He came to Amersham after his apartment in Maida Vale had been bombed in the Blitz. He was first billeted with Mr Darvill at Flint House, Woodside Road. According to the BBC music producer Leo Black who knew him as a child: “for a man so besotted with England there could have been no more fortunate ‘fall on his feet’; the town swarmed with culture”.
Born in Rome in 1893 Francesco studied at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, one of the oldest musical institutions in the world. He came to London around the end of WWI where he met and married Maria Stierli. The couple had two children, Maeve, and Niso.
During the 1920s Francesco played at the Proms eight times, performing Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto, Busoni’s Liszt transcription, and his own much admired Poema Gregoriana amongst others. After the breakdown of his marriage, Francesco returned to Rome to be the musical director of the Teatro dei Piccolo, the puppet theatre in Rome. An opponent of Mussolini, he left again and became a naturalised British citizen in 1936.
Francesco lodged at the Music Studio, the home of Giorgia Pearce (née Georgiana Wilkie Maria Hoby), a former suffragette, writer, composer and piano teacher from London. The Studio itself was a single storey building next to the main house with French windows and its own loft. Elias Canetti’s Party in the Blitz and Mabel Brailsford’s Wartime Diaries describe how the Studio became a meeting point for émigré musicians, writers and intellectuals. Here Francesco gave piano lessons, concerts and lectures. As war service, Francesco gave lectures to the troops on music, which led to him being offered a job by the BBC, which he declined.
Described by Leo Black as “gentlest of men”, Francesco wanted to marry Constance Dupré who lived at Roslea, 23 Parkfield Avenue. She was an accomplished concert musician and had studied piano and violin. Her strict father would not allow it. Francesco died at the Studio in 1949, just 56.
Francesco founded a musical dynasty. His son Niso was a cellist, composer and arranger, and his great-grandchildren include the classical violinist Hugo Ticciati and conductor Robin Ticciati, the musical director of Glyndebourne.