Raffaello de Banfield

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Raffaello de Banfield
Born(1922-06-02)2 June 1922
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England
Died7 January 2008(2008-01-07) (aged 85)
Trieste, Italy
Other namesRaphael Douglas, Baron von Banfield Tripcovich
  • "Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz"
  • "Dante Alighieri" Lyceum, Trieste
Alma mater
Notable workSee Selected works
Spouse(s)Countess Maria delle Grazie Brandolini d'Adda

Raffaello de Banfield (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom2 June 1922 – Trieste, Italy, 7 January 2008), also known as Raphael Douglas, Baron von Banfield Tripcovich, was a British-born composer.[1]


Raffaello de Banfield was the son of Austro-Hungarian flying ace Gottfried von Banfield (last surviving Knight of the Military Order of Maria Theresa) and the Countess Maria Tripcovich[2] (originating from Trieste), who acquired a permanent residence in England in 1920. He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

He was married to Maria delle Grazie dei Conti dei Brandolini d'Adda (b. 1923) on 27 December 1976.[3] The marriage remained childless; Brandolini d'Adda had three children from her first marriage to Count Leonardo Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga.[4]


Raffaello de Banfield attended the Swiss International "Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz", the "Dante Alighieri" Lyceum in Trieste, the University of Bologna and the Benedetto Marcello Conservatory in Venice led by Gian Francesco Malipiero. He studied composition from 1946 to 1949 at the National Conservatory (under the direction of Henri Busser) with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. In these years he met Herbert von Karajan with whom he had a lifelong friendship, and also with artists such as Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Francis Poulenc. In the United States he belonged to the intellectual circle surrounding the writer and composer Paul Bowles, through which he met Tennessee Williams and Leonard Bernstein. In 1949 through the painter Leonor Fini he was introduced to the choreographer and ballet dancer Roland Petit; out of this grew the ballet Le combat ("The Duel"), which had its first original production in London in 1949. This piece, based upon the Tancred and Clorinda episode in Torquato Tasso's poem Gerusalemme liberata, was performed 39 times at the Vienna State Opera in the choreography of Dimitrije Parlic between 1959 and 1973. Until 1958 he spent time between Paris and New York and maintained a friendship also with Maria Callas. After years abroad in Italy, France, England and the United States, where he lived for more than ten years, he was from 1972 to 1996 Director of the Giuseppe Verdi Theatre in Trieste and he comprehensively renovated and modernised the Opera House. From 1978 to 1986 he was Director of the "Festival dei due mondi" ("Festival of the two worlds") in Spoleto, Italy.

He became famous for his compositions, which were performed worldwide and received countless honours and recognitions, such as the Italian "Grand Ufficiale"; in 1994, through François Mitterrand, he became a Grand Cavalier of the Légion d'Honneur. He died at his home near the so-called "Rive" in Trieste, Italy.

Selected works[edit]

  • Le combat, ballet, Original production 1949 in London.
  • Theatre Music for 'Much Ado About Nothing, 1953.
  • Una lettera d'amore di Lord Byron ("Lord Byron's Love Letter", by Tennessee Williams), Original production 1955 in New Orleans with Astrid Varnay and Patricia Neway.
  • Quatuor, ballet (1957)
  • Acostino, ballet based on a story by Alberto Moravia, Original production 1958 in Genoa.
  • Colloquio col Tango ossìa La Formica ("Conversation with the Tango or The Ant" by C. Terron), Opera in One Act. Original production September 1959 in Como[5]
  • Alissa, Opera in One Act with Four Scenes. Libretto by R. Miller. Original production March 1965 in Geneva[6]
  • Serale, (after poem of Rainer Maria Rilke), lyric work for soprano and large orchestra, 1968.
  • Liebeslied, (after poem of Rilke), lyric work for soprano and large orchestra, 1968.
  • Der Tod der Geliebten (The death of the beloved), (after poem of Rilke), lyric work for soprano and large orchestra, 1972.
  • Der Sturm (The storm) (after poem of Rilke), lyric work for soprano and large orchestra, 1972.
  • For Ophelia, concert piece for soprano and orchestra, Original production c1976 in London (Kiri te Kanawa, John Pritchard).
  • Vier Rilke Lieder (Four songs of Rilke) for soprano and orchestra, original presentation 1986 in Brussels.


  1. ^ Translated from German Wikipedia, 11 January 2008.
  2. ^ Countess Tripcovich died in 1976. cf Osborne 1998, 184–5 & Pl 18.
  3. ^ "Maria delle Grazie dei Conti Brandolini d'Adda". thePeerage.com. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  4. ^ thePeerage.com – Person Page 17421
  5. ^ "Description Page for Colloquio" (in Italian). Casa Ricordi. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
  6. ^ "Description Page for Alissa" (in Italian). Casa Ricordi. Retrieved 11 July 2008.

Further reading[edit]

  • Richard Osborne, Herbert von Karajan. A Life in Music (Chatto & Windus, London 1998). (Many refs, and photo Pl. 19).

External links[edit]

  • Biography of Raffaello de Banfield (Italian) [1]
  • Report of demise (Italian, Il Piccolo) [2]
  • Biography (English) [3]
  • "Composer Raffello de Banfield is dead" (Wiener Zeitung) Archived 11 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  • NY Times: "Opera 'Lord Byron' and 'Renard' at Festival", 26 May 1986 [4]