Domenico Dragonetti was a double bass virtuoso who wowed European audiences from his London debut in 1794 to a performance at age 82 in Germany. Huge hands, strong fingers and hours of daily practice enabled his nearly unmatched talent.
Why have we never heard of him? It could be because of the sheer number of talented musicians performing and composing in his day, including Beethoven. He was born only seven years after Mozart in Venice - city of Vivaldi. He played with Rossini and considered Mendelsohn, Pagannini Liszt and Haydn friends. And perhaps history better remembers its bad boys, which Domenico wasn't. It was said he had a "genius for friendship." He managed his career and his money well and supported and many others, including fellow musicians.
While his story is not deeply etched in musical history today, fame and fortune followed him in his own lifetime and by all accounts he deserved them both.