Manuel Patricio Garcia, son of the tenor Manuel del
Vicente García, is renowned as one of history's
of singing. His scientific study of the larynx through the use
laryngoscope led to his formerly being considered the inventor
instrument, but that claim is now disputed.
He began musical studies with his father in Naples in 1814. He
few lessons with his father's teacher there, Giovanni Ansani
(1744-1826), and also studied theory with the composer
Zingarelli (1752-1837). In 1820 he studied harmony with
François-Joseph Fétis in Paris.
In 1825 he traveled with his family to New York and sang
Figaro in the
opening-night performance of Il
barbiere di Siviglia on 29 November 1825. After
travelling to Mexico with his father he returned to Paris in
he made his debut as Figaro at the Opéra Italien (with
sister, Maria Malibran,
role of Rosina). The poor critical
reception of his performance (Fétis, in the Revue Musicale, commented
didn't know which foot to stand on") led him to abandon a
When his father returned to Paris from Mexico in 1829, Manuel
assisted in his studio and began teaching students of his own.
continued to sing in performances with his father's students.
stint in the military in 1830, with subsequent work in a
military hospital, led to his scientific interest in vocal
After his father died in 1832, Garcia came into his own as maestro di canto and
through experience and scientific observation, a
groundbreaking method of vocal pedagogy which was presented in
his Traité complet
de l'Art du Chant,
published in Paris in 1840.
In September of 1854 he made his first experiments with the
purchased a dentist's mirror. Having heated [it], I placed
the uvula, then flashing upon it with a hand mirror a ray of
the sun, I saw to my intense delight the larynx exposed...
the Royal Society, May 12, 1859]
Probably the most important contribution to vocal pedagogy by
Patricio Garcia was his emphasis on the critical importance of
workings of the glottis (coup
la glotte)—a point of his teaching that has often
misinterpreted and unjustly maligned.
Among his many pupils, most noteworthy were his sister, Pauline Viardot-Garcia,
Swedish soprano, Jenny Lind, Johanna Wagner (niece of Richard
Mathilde Marchesi, Julius Stockhausen, Henriette Nissen,
Bataille, Catherine Hayes, and Antoinette Sterling. His son by
first wife (soprano Eugénie Mayer), Gustavo, had a
career as a baritone, as did the latter's son, Alberto.
Traité complet de
chant, Paris, 1840; English translation, enlarged,
"Memoire sur la voix humaine," in: Comptes-rendus
séances de l'Académie des sciences, 12
"Observations on the Human Voice," in: Proceedings of the Royal Society
7, 1855, 399-410
voix humaine, Paris, 1861
Malcolm Sterling Mackinlay, "Manuel Garcia and His Friends.
Reminiscences of a Centenarian," in: The Strand Magazine 29,
March 1905, 257-67. Mackinlay was the son of Antoinette
also a student of Garcia.
Malcolm Sterling Mackinlay, Garcia the Centenarian and His
Edinburgh and London, 1908. Largely anecdotal, this remains
book on Manuel Patricio Garcia published to date.
James Radomski, "Letters
Manuel Patricio García to Pauline
Viardot-García," in: Inter-American
Review, 17 (Summer 2007), nos. 1-2, 237-255. Contains
thirty-one letters from the 1840s to 1905 in the original
Spanish and English that Garcia used in communicating with his
These provide tremendous insight into Garcia's character and
the relationship between these two remarkable musicians.
James Radomski, "Manuel Garcia's Pedagogic Advice to Pauline
November-December 2007, 4-7. Four letters from the above, offering interesting insights
presented in English translation; available online at: http: www.nyst.org/bulletin/voiceprints_07.5_Nov-Dec_07.pdf
Teresa Radomski, "Manuel
(1805-1906) – A Bicentenary
11 (December 2005),
25-41. An excellent introduction to the principles of Garcia's
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