Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 April 2011
RAAFF, Anton, one of the most distinguished tenors of his day; born 1714 in the village of Holzem, near Bonn, and educated for the priesthood at the Jesuit College at Cologne. There he learned his notes for the first time at 20 years old, having previously sung by ear. His fine voice so struck the Elector Clement Augustus, that he offered to have him trained for a singer, and after making him sing in an oratorio, took him to Munich, where Ferrandini brought him forward in an opera. Raaff then determined to devote himself entirely to music, and after studying for a short time with Bernacchi at Bologna, became one of the first tenors of the day. In 1738 he sang at Florence on the betrothal of Maria Theresa, and followed up this successful debut at many of the Italian theatres. In 1742 he returned to Bonn, and sang at several of the German courts, particularly at Vienna, where he appeared in Jomelli's ‘Didone’ (1749), to Metastasio's great satisfaction. In 1752 he passed through Italy to Lisbon, where he was engaged for three years on highly advantageous terms. In 1755 he accepted a summons to Madrid, where he remained under Farinelli's direction, enjoying every possible mark of favour from the court and public. In 1759 he accompanied Farinelli to Naples, where he afterwards met with Naumann, and where his fine singing cured the Princess Belmonte Pignatelli of a profound melancholy into which she had fallen on the death of her husband.