(b Ortano sul Mare, 9 April 1846; d Rome, 2 Dec 1916). Italian song composer and singing teacher. He entered the Naples Conservatory in 1858, studying the violin under Pinto and composition under Conti and Mercadante. In 1869, illness and overwork as maestrino at the college enforced a period of convalescence in Ortano. There he wrote Non m’ama più and Lamento d’amore, songs which subsequently became popular but which he initially found difficult to publish. Sgambati helped Tosti establish himself in Rome (where his admirers included D’Annunzio) by composing a ballad for a concert at the Sala Dante which Tosti himself sang in addition to his own works. Princess Margherita of Savoy (later Queen of Italy) was present and immediately appointed him her singing teacher and shortly thereafter curator of the court music archives. Tosti first visited London in 1875, and then made annual spring visits until he settled there in 1880. In the same year he was appointed singing teacher to the royal family, and from 1894 he was professor of singing at the RAM. He became a British subject in 1906, was knighted in 1908, and retired to Italy in 1912.
The songs Forever, Goodbye, Mother, At Vespers, Amore, Aprile, Vorrei morire and That Day were among his earliest successes in England. He was a prolific composer to Italian, French and English texts, with a graceful, fluent melodic style that quickly found favour among singers of drawing-room songs and ballads; the ballad ‘alla Tosti’ also found many imitators. His Vocal Albums, the 15 duets Canti popolari abruzzesi, and later songs such as Mattinata and Serenata all enjoyed great success.