A year in review: 2018

Even years …

I have always thought, due to my past experiences, that even years are kind of dramatic. Not necessarily negative but, well, turbulent!

The problem with this kind of thinking is simple: they come every other year!

But let’s dive into the major events of this past year! (reminder: be concise!)


For the first time this year I have decided to write New Year’s Resolutions, using the great resource provided by Readdle.

After starting very slowly and without too much discipline to study coding, I realised this attitude needed to change. Since then —and work permitting— I study and practice it every day.


On February 4th I released my second ever musical publication (even if the catalogue number identifies it as number 0001!): this was the first of many collaborations with my former cello teacher, Marcio Carneiro. You can read more about it on this link or in the publications page. This Intermezzo from the opera Goyescas by Enrique Granados was premiered this December by acclaimed cellist Giovanni Sollima and the cello ensemble of the Conservatory of Bari. I will soon release a video of that performance.

On the engraving side, I completed the score Morphosis for 42 instruments by William Blank. It is a stunning piece, dedicated to and premiered by the Kammerorchester Basel. You can find more of his publications, all proudly engraved by yours truly, on BabelScore here.



Seeing how much work was needed to prepare the accompaniment parts for my students in the Suzuki School of Saluzzo I decided to release the collection of the 2nd volume as its own publication. It contains the accompaniments to all the pieces covered by the Suzuki Violin School volume 2 in a version for 2 cellos, one harder for more advanced students and a simpler one (though not less important one as it is the bass line!) for beginner to intermediate students. It is my plan to release all of the volumes in due time, as well as my own revisitation of the Cello School (future articles will explain all this, so let me know if you are interested in this).


15 years ago I had a bike-car accident where I broke my two central upper teeth. In these last three years the situation had degenerated and I had to live with antibiotics while looking for a solution. All this deserves its own article but let me say that the biggest issue was not my tooth, but the doctors who analysed my condition and tried to offer the best solution for them, not for me.


I visited several specialists for my tooth and I wish I would have had a single coherent answer. Whatever they said, I decided to wait until my summer trip to Serbia — my girlfriend’s home country — to see what could be done (and also to listen to yet another opinion). It was a risky move, but it definitely paid out.


The end of the music school year was approaching and the stress was rising, as usual. Everyone was full of things to do and the music lesson was always coming as the last thing but, sincerely, after 8 years of teaching kids and teenagers aged 3-18, I got used to it. It is very difficult to not take things personally in such an emotional job but, well, there is always something to learn!

I managed to fit in yet another publication, a true gem: every cellist knows Alfredo Piatti for his Caprices for solo cello op. 25. Few, though, knew that one of these, n°7, had also been created with a piano accompaniment in mind. You can find it here.


My girlfriend had many issues with her own tooth, which we had to solve here in Italy as she could not stand the pain.

We said goodbye to our car which got demolished. It was a pain because after all these years I am pretty sure it was killed by voluntarily damaging repairs. Here you can see it in its last glorious ride to Aosta. She (!) was a beauty, right?


We then left for holidays to Valencia where, for the first time, we had decided to use Airbnb instead of hotels (mostly because of budget reasons).

The general feeling was a bit strange and, indeed, on one of the first days, we found our luggage robbed by someone who had the keys of the flat! Naturally, the owner didn’t answer the phone… Whoever was he took only cash, no documents, no passports, no nothing, only money! The concierge of the building was a hero and tried even to wrestle with the thief to stop him but the police didn’t come in time (they happened not to know where that place was… in the city centre, sure…).

Whatever, we decided to go back home and Airbnb was fantastic in its assistance and in giving us back the amount of the nights we didn’t use plus a free stay in a hotel next to the airport. The only screwer was Ryanair which charged us horribly for changing the flight.

If you ever go to Spain with Airbnb, watch out for Grandwolf or, if he changed name, for a bald quite tall man called José. I am not sure Airbnb cancelled his activity.

The Valencia Oceanographic was amazing, though!


Teeth Festival

We arrived in Serbia and there I started my two months of Purgatory!

The dentist there agreed with the Italian colleagues about the extraction of the problematic tooth but didn’t with the implant solution. Putting an implant in a sick bone with three devitalised teeth around was not really going to bring me anywhere. Also he said I was too young for an implant and that it was a too expensive solution. Wait… did you read that? Have you ever heard a dentist telling you it is too expensive for you, the customer? He said:

 « Listen, I do not have a website, and my only promotion are my own customers. It is natural that if you are not happy you will not only not come back to me but also speak bad of me to others! »

Also, I had a big bone infection above a neighbour tooth which needed to be treated before the extraction.

Anyway, this doctor was a genius and now I have been given back my normal life. I will have to check that infection in March 2019 to see if I still need a little operation, but in any case the worse seems to be long gone.

The incredible thing is that no one in Italy had seen the cancer that had been growing inside of my tooth and that was eating it from the inside.

In vacanza

The last day of August was dedicated to yet another publication of Piatti, this time a cello quartet called “In Vacanza” (literally: “On holiday”). It is a charming piece and the first piece I realised with the software Dorico. More on this in the future, I guess.

You can find it here.


Our last month in Serbia was dedicated to controlling that my tooth (or well, the bridge taking its place) was all fine and working! Which it was! The gums around were (and still are) very sensitive and delicate, but they have always been for me, even before I had any problem.

Fortunately I kept myself busy with Czas, a wonderful piece for three female solo voices, flute, clarinet and vibraphone, always by William Blank, soon to be available on BabelScores.

Before coming back to Italy I also got in touch with a new young composer who was looking for a stable engraver for his music, Ericsson Hatfield. Since then we have realised to of his compositions for violin quartet, Constellations and Sam & Lilly, soon to be performed in the United States.


Coming back home meant taking a great decision.

Without car and without the financial means to buy one this meant I had to leave one of the schools where I was teaching cello (and I will not speak of the political games they put on the table to forbid me to go there on Saturday morning when buses would have allowed me to get back home in time).

Suddenly I found myself with 6 more free hours per week, which I dedicated to accelerate my coding practices.

Far from me the assumption of becoming a developer anytime soon, I still believe that coding is the one skill that changed my view of the world and my mindset in this year.


November is usually the worst month here: foggy, grey, depressing.

And instead, this time was one of the most beautiful months of the year, with so many sunny days to rival the best of springs!

Even without car, or maybe because of the lack of, we started to organise our life around public transports which, though far from perfect, revealed themselves to be much better than what one could have expected (as long as you do not want to come back home late at night!).

We went to the mountain, to museums and we made a serious choice: every week we need to take a whole day off and go either to walk in a beautiful place (which Italy is for sure not lacking of!) or visit some great museum (which we also do not lack!).

Also, we started Tai Chi! Wonderful! … a bit less wonderful is to realise how much your spine has been damaged by bad instrument teaching but well, we are young, there is time to repair all this!

Va’, pensiero!

On November 26th I released the fruit of my second collaboration with my cello teacher, the “Va’, pensiero” from Verdi’s Nabucco for 8 cellos. For some strange reason this piece is having about a tenth of the views of the other ones, even if I promoted it in the same exact way and on the same pages. Strange to say the least and I do not have enough knowledge on SEO to understand its reasons by now.

Anyway, I am very proud of this project and you can find it here.

Black Friday!

I did it, I purchased Ray Wenderlich’s video subscription!

So, I have one year to see how things go and I will report back to tell you what I have learned at regular intervals.


Maybe it is because it is the last month of the year, who knows, but this was the month of confirmation!

I attended my first ever Swift conference (Swift Heroes, in Turin) and it was a wonderful experience. I got really motivated to accelerate my training and this is a really good thing! As a trained classical musician I know that motivation is all, without that no one is going to make you practice cello (or any other instrument) 8 hours per day!

I now have a very serious program of daily practice that takes my engraving work as a top priority and coding study as the second place! This has also been the year where I started to use the Pomodoro method to save my eyes and my spine, and that ended up being a winner choice!

In these last days I have started dealing with the next composition of Mr. Blank, a Concertino for flute and ensemble. It is a marvellous creation and there are many techniques that required me to bend Sibelius to my will. I will probably write a tutorial on some of them in the future if you are interested.

Not before end of January, though, this piece is big and the deadline is really near!


I really look forward to next year to see what will come out of the planted seeds and what new opportunities will arise.

I hope that the tooth control in March will find that everything is well but I know that that is absolutely not in my control.

I will write a “Year in Preview” article in the next days.

Thank you for keeping up with me until now!

I wish you all the best for the end of 2018 and for the New Year!




Published by Michele Galvagno

Professional Musical Scores Designer and Engraver Graduated Classical Musician (cello) and Teacher Tech Enthusiast and Apprentice iOS / macOS Developer Grafico di Partiture Musicali Professionista Musicista classico diplomato (violoncello) ed insegnante Appassionato di tecnologia ed apprendista Sviluppatore iOS / macOS

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