Giuseppe Saverio Raffaele Mercadante is one of the most important Italian composers of the nineteenth century. He was born in 1795 in Altamura and from an early age he began his studies in Naples. The debut took place in 1818; He was, in fact, commissioned to write the dances for the Teatro Saint Carlo. He met with great success, especially in Spain, Portugal and Austria. He became a close friend of Gioacchino Rossini, in 1837 He obtained a great success with The Oath, one of his masterpieces. In 1862 lost his eyesight. He died in 1870. His opera production is very wide. In 1895, one hundred years after his birth, the Altamura inaugurate a new theater dedicated to him. In 2013, after years of neglect, the Mercadante theater is back to shine forth thanks to the Teatro Mercadante Ltd., that after a painstaking and extensive restoration, has return it back to the town.
LUCA DE SAMUELE CAGNAZZI
He was an historian, a mathematician, an economist, a scientist who was born in Altamura in 1764. He conducted his studies first at the University of his hometown, subsequently at that of Naples, where he graduated. He was mentioned on the list of the most illustrious men of Altamura and he was one of the strongest encyclopedists of his time, but also a lyrical poet and a metaphysician, a geologist and an archaeologist, a theologian and a botanist and a founder, in Italy, of the modern statistical science. He taught first at the University of Florence, at a later time (1806-1821) at the University of Naples. He invented the phonograph, an instrument used for the study of sound vibrations, a copy of which is currently preserved at the Archives Library City Museum of Altamura. Having undergone trial, he died in Naples on 26 September 1852. One of his most important public works was “Leges in Catholic Ecclesia vigentes apto order digestae”. The High School” Liceo Classico” is named after the Archdeacon Luca de Samuel Cagnazzi. The splendid Cagnazzi building, situated near the church of St. Nicholas of the Greeks, is now home to a hotel.
Born in Altamura in 1884, He was one of the most important figures of Southern Italy. As a strenuous socialist, he took consistently care of the condition of the laborers of the Southern people. In 1920 he was elected mayor of Altamura and because of his strong anti-fascism campaign he was jailed in 1942. Friend and collaborator of Pietro Nenni, Piero Gobetti and Carlo Rosselli, He was one of the most respected intellectuals of the period. He died in Bari in 1973. His birthplace is located in the cloister Cinfio.
RAFFAELE E TINA LAUDATI
Respectively father (Naples 1864-1941) and his daughter (Altamura 1910-2000) represent two of the most distinguished painters in the artistic panorama of their time, in Italy and abroad. Raffaele, a descendant of an old noble family in Altamura, returned to the city of his ancestors at the age of 14 and later, after his father’s death he moved to Naples in order to complete his studies, showing from the beginning great passion for painting. He began with drawing and soon moved to Paris, exercising his talent in caricature, infact he started a collaboration with “La caricatura” and “Charivari”. For a couple of years he resided in London, but soon decided to return to Italy where he studied painting with Morelli and was initiated to pointillism by Previati and Segantini. He is commonly considered one of the most important painters of Apulia of the nineteenth and twentieth century and is remembered as the undisputed master of the representation of light. Among his works we can find, for example: The derelicts, the woman undressing, the self-portrait (1926), Le Maquis de vieux Montmartre (1928). His daughter Tina was influenced by the works of her father as well as by the culture and the cosmopolitan life of Paris, where she studied. She embraced impressionism, a love that even deepened upon her return to Altamura by coming in contact with the popular culture of Apulia. The artist has represented the reality of Altamura, by synthesizing a wide variety of subjects drawn from real life. With her relocation to Naples she experienced the transition from the early impressionistic aesthetics to a style which saw her givig more attention to graphics. In 1975, with her final return to her native town, she devoted herself to paintings of still life and landscapes of the Murgia, works where it is still remarkable the willingness to represent light. Among her works: The mother and the child (1938), The waiting (1987), A portrait of a woman with a hat, the cityscape and the self-portrait. After a first exhibition of paintings by Rafaele and Tina Laudati in 2009, at the town hall, the definitive place for them is now at the Gallery of the Archive Library Museum of Altamura.