Naples c. 1759–c. 1770
In 1734 Charles of Bourbon was crowned king of Naples and he became king of Sicily the following year, although his coronation proved to be the last time he set foot on the island. Despite his lack of interest in Sicily, Charles transformed Naples into one of the most magnificent capitals in Europe before inheriting the Spanish crown in 1759 and passing control of Naples and Sicily to his son, Ferdinand. Di Stefano believes that it was around this time Gaspare Trusiano, accompanied by Vincenzo and Giovanni, moved to Naples.
The city was by now the fourth largest in Europe with a population of around 325,000 and another 3.5 million in the surrounding countryside – far larger than any other in Italy. Architecture and the arts flourished and after 1700 Naples even began to rival Venice in its enthusiasm for opera. This environment would have offered far greater opportunities than Palermo for Gaspare. Rosario, meanwhile, remained in Palermo, where in 1770 he attended the marriage of his daughter to Francesco Arienzo (one of the witnesses being Angelo Bonanno, a musical instrument maker).
According to the research of Francesco Nocerino, the instrument curator at San Sebastiano in Naples, a contract shows that in 1770 Gaspare made two flutes and two oboes for the Royal Conservatoire in Naples. The agreement concludes that these instruments would be remade if they proved to be not in tune, perhaps suggesting the maker was a fairly recent arrival in the city and still something of an unknown quantity. Once established, the business seems to have thrived, with Gaspare, Giovanni and Vincenzo Trusiano Panormo all listed among 14 woodwind makers in a total of 120 musical instrument makers working in 18th-century Naples. Surviving instruments bearing brands of ‘Panormo & Figli, Joannes, Giovanni and Vincenzo Panormo’ include flutes, oboes, clarinets and a recorder.
The family went on to become the most important woodwind makers in Naples, but Vincenzo would not remain there for long. Giovanni did stay and in 1783, working under his own name (perhaps suggesting that Gaspare had died by this time), he supplied two flutes for the use of the orchestra of the Real Teatro del Fondo Seperaione. Giovanni was followed in the family business by his son, Gaspare II, and grandson, Giovanni II, who worked until the middle of the 19th century. A catalogue of the Panormo firm from around 1835, most likely relating to Giovanni II, includes clarinets, flutes, piccolos, oboes and bassoons; also supplied but not necessarily made by Giovanni were horns, trombones and trumpets.
Vincenzo ‘unassisted, from sixteen years of age, took delight in making various descriptions of musical instruments’
It certainly appears Vincenzo also made woodwinds, although little credence has been given to Francesco’s assertion that his father Vincenzo ‘unassisted, from sixteen years of age, took delight in making various descriptions of musical instruments’ and that he ‘excelled in violins, violoncellos, double-basses and hautboys.’ Nevertheless this appears to be supported not only by an early double bass bearing a manuscript label ‘Vincenz** Trusiano/fecit Panormi/1752’ recorded by di Stefano (now housed in the Conservatorio Vincenzo Bellini di Palermo) but also by a boxwood flute and oboe, both branded from Naples.
Although as yet we have no knowledge of where Vincenzo learnt violin making, given that we know Gaspare made double basses and probably other instruments too, it is to be expected that Vincenzo’s initial apprenticeship would have been with his father, or perhaps one of the 60 or more instrument makers who worked in Palermo in the 18th century. During his time in Naples, exposure to instruments of the Gagliano family may also have influenced his later work.