Temperament scholar Patrizio Barbieri died last night

With great sadness I received these news today from a common friend in Rome.

Prof. Barbieri died of cancer aged 84. We were on the phone a few weeks ago when I was in Rome, but he did not wish me (or any friend for that matter) to see him in such a bad shape.

Barbieri was an Engineer and amateur organist. He was considered the top specialist in Italy in Acoustical Engineering, applied to both musical instruments and concert halls. However, he devoted most of his life to the study of the history of musical temperament, searching most historical archives in Italy and also a few in other European countries. Many considered him the leading specialist in temperaments in modern times, with over a hundred of published papers and a few books as well.

During 2023, knowing that the end was near, Barbieri worked very hard at putting together collections of old papers, as well as more recent new works, dealing mostly with the history of the fortepiano. Hopefully some of these recent works will one day be published.

Very sad news indeed.

We all stand on the shoulders of giants such as Prof. Barbieri. R.I.P.

I am very sorry to hear this news; though glad that he was able to publish his important works recently, so that it is not overlooked. Barbieri’s new book is enormous!


What is it about and are there links to this?

Tuning and temperament : practice vs science, 1450-2020


Published by Gangemi Editore, Roma, 2023

ISBN 10: 8849246013ISBN 13: 9788849246018

I found a pdf of the title page, table of contents and blurb at Researchgate:



It’s available on Amazon for a mere E50, (plus E25 shipping to US)

Eventually, I’ll post my modest impression, as a practicing keyboard continuo player. If it has a single tip for working with string players, it will be money well spent.

Bruce Jacobs
Saint Paul

The mammoth treatise by Barbieri with interesting tips for period-instrument string players is the other one, “Enharmonic instruments”. Here in Italy costs €51 on Amazon.

As readers of my Unequal Temperaments book know, my extensive treatment of tuning on string instruments and how it relates to keyboard temperament has been significantly influenced by Barbieri’s research, via his invaluable printed papers on historical violin intonation, which he kindly gave me in Rome during our first meetings about 20 years ago: these papers are now embedded in his “Enharmonic…” treatise.

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