Although Lanzetti was remained unknown until the beginning of the 1980’s, in his lifetime he was regarded as a brilliant ‘cellist. Yet his virtuosity on the instrument never equalled his fame, which was eclipsed by the popularity of another great 18th century Napolian ‘cellist, Franceschiello.
In any case, the skills of Lanzetti as a ‘cellist were inimitable. He was born in Naples in 1709, under the name of Lancetti (in Torino, where he lived for many years, the ‘cello was pronounced violinzello, which explains the change in spelling of his name). He studied at the Conservatorio di Santa Maria di Loreto, the most renowned school for ‘cellists in the eighteenth century, where he received lessons from the greatest ‘cellists of the Neapolitan school. He later moved to Torino, where he became ‘cellist of the Court Theatre, and a member of the Capella Reale. During his lifetime, Lanzetti toured Europe several times. The most celebrated visits were his the Concert Spirituels, and to London (1730 and in the 1740’s) and Hamburg (1751).
His compositions are exclusively for the ‘cello. He wrote three collections of sonatas for ‘cello and figured bass (published as Opus I, V and VI), a method,some transcriptions,and several sonatas which have been preserved only in manuscripts. Even his early works require a surprisingly high technical ability for his time, and they become even more demanding in his later compositions. This can be seen in the use of double stops and bow strokes in Opus 1, even in the highest range of the instrument. In Opus V, Lanzetti’s further investigations into the technical possibilities of the instrument are represented through the use of artificial harmonics, an extremely advance technique for his time. Opus VI is somewhat different, returning to a simpler and more constant technique. His developments in technique were probably too audacious for the ‘cellists of the eighteenth century, and therefore not suitable for publication. While he continued with his technical investigations, particularly in the handwritten sonatas (such as “Porto Mahone”), the published Opus VI remained in “easy and elegant taste”, as indicated on the title page.