Born in Pistoia (Tuscany) on september 22 1937, he studied in Rome at the Santa Cecilia Academy of Music and graduated (summa cum laude) in 1958 with Guido Battistelli. Thus he started his concert career very early. In the same period he studied Composition with Di Donato and Margola, and Conducting with Franco Ferrara.
In 1960 at the Contemporary Music Festival in Venice, he performed the world première of Concerto for Double bass and Orchestra” by Firmino Sifonia. Critics from all over the world unanimously described him as a new born star in the art of this instrument.
In 1960 he became First double bass at the Turin Rai Symphony Orchestra and in 1962 he moved to Rome where he held the same position until 1980. In that year he decided to became a full time soloist and conductor.
As a soloist he has performed with such artists as Bernstein, Karajan, Celibidache, Kubelik, Jochum, Sawallisch, Giulini, Muti, Abbado, Metha, Maazel, Barbirolli, Munch. All this experience was conveyed to his numerous students all over the world. In 1971 he won the Double bass chair for Music Conservatory and taught in Bari, Frosinone, l’Aquila and Rome. In 1986 he moved to the Geneva Conservatoire. There he teaches classes of “Virtuosité”. The very same year with Accardo, Giuranna and Filippini, he founded the Strings Academy Walter Stauffer in Cremona. He is invited also to teach in Fiesole at the Music School.
In the tradition of great Maestros such as Dragonetti, Bottesini, Caimmi, Mengoli , Bill, Prunner, Findeisen, Simandl, Nanny, Franco Petracchi is credited to have revolutionized the technique of his instrument.
His method to interpret, synthetize, formalize the double bass technique bringing it up to the level of other string instruments , even of piano concepts, is reputed to be unique. This peculiar aspect of his teaching has allowed many of his students to impose themselves in the most important interpretation competition such as: Geneva, Bucchi, Munchen, Crema- Parma- Cremona ( Bottesini), Isle of Man…
The technical perfection taught by Petracchi is not a means to an end in itself but a means for achieving the utmost interpretative clarity. His studies in Composition and Conducting have pushed the interest of many students in the deep of compositions written for this instrument, both as soloists and as orchestra performers.
There is no other double bass player who has received greater attention and tributes from famous composers. These works are great successes and represent the very pillars in the double bass literature.
As a personal choice Franco Petracchi has refused to record in studios.
However there are a lot of live recordings of his concerts which have been published in CD:
- Bottesini Gran Duo (Sony);
- Bottesini Passioni Amorose (ASV)
- Sifonia Concerto (Edipan Roma)
- Bottesini Tarantella (Pull)
- Zbinden Divertimento (Espace Suisse Romande)
- Rota Divertimento ( Panne Enterpreise Takuma Foundation Tokyo)