MASCAGNI, PIETRO (1863- ), Italian operatic composer, was born at Leghorn, the son of a baker, and educated for the law; but he neglected his legal studies for music, taking secret lessons at the Instituto Luigi Cherubini. There a symphony by him was performed in 1879, and various other compositions attracted attention, so that money was provided by a wealthy amateur for him to study at the Milan Conservatoire. But Mascagni chafed at the teaching, and soon left Milan to become conductor to a touring operatic company. After a somewhat chequered period he suddenly leapt into fame by the production at Rome in 1800 of his one-act opera Cavalleria Rusticana, containing a tuneful " intermezzo," which became wildly popular. Mascagni was the musical hero of the hour, and Cavalleria Rusticana was performed everywhere. But his later work failed to repeat this success. L'Amico Fritz (1891), / Rantzau (1892), Guglielmo Ralcli/ (1895), Silvano (1895), ZaneUo (1896), Iris (1898), Le Maschere (1901), and Arnica (1905), were coldly or adversely received; and though Cavalleria Rusticana, with its catchy melodies, still held the stage, this succession of failures involved a steady decline in the composer's reputation. 4 From 1895 to 1903 Mascagni was director of the Pesaro Conservatoire, but in the latter year, having left his post in order to tour through the United States, he was dismissed from the appointment.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)