Convenient though it is, some musicians don’t want to accommodate a 12-TET, insisting instead that we continue to use pure intervals derived from harmonics the way God and Pythagoras intended. Harmonics-based tuning systems are collectively known as just intonation. This is a poetically apt term, because it implies fairness. By contrast, the implicit message of 12-TET is that life isn’t fair. As we’ve learned, just intonation systems give you some lovely pure intervals, but are severely limited otherwise. A few malcontents prefer alternative historical compromise tuning systems that make some keys sound better at the expense of others sounding worse. There are many such esoteric temperament systems, but none of them are in widespread use.
As a youngster, Mercadante took on the flute, violin, and composition at the Naples Conservatory, and frequently organized concerts with his cohorts in school. The famous opera composer Gioachino Rossini once offered his compliments to the conservatory director, saying: “your young pupil Mercadante begins where we finish.” It was Rossini’s encouragement that drove Mercadente to fall in love with writing operas, though he would also write a number of symphonies and concertos, including many for the flute, which he often premiered with himself as the soloist.