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Late Baroque Music
early 18th century
Italian Masters

Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
By the early eighteenth century Italy had become still more firmly established as the source of much European musical activity. Italian opera held a dominant position in the musical theatre, while Italian instrumental music and its performers were heard from Lisbon to London, St. Petersburg and Vienna. The Italian instrumental style found its most influential expression in the work of the violinist Arcangelo Corelli. Born in Fusignano in 1653, he studied in Bologna, before establishing himself in Rome in the 1670s, entering the service of Queen Christina of Sweden towards the end of the decade, and later benefiting from the patronage of Cardinal Pamphili, with regular performances at the latter's Palazzo al Corso. His principal patron for the last twenty years of his life was the young Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, nephew of Pope Alexander VII. Corelli's influence was very considerable in a number of ways. He was greatly respected as a teacher of the violin, while his compositions, played by musicians disciplined under his direction, served as models for a coming generation. His published works include 48 trio sonatas, a dozen violin sonatas and, issued posthumously in 1714 in Amsterdam, a set of twelve concerti grossi.

Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)
Alessandro Scarlatti, father of the prolific composer of keyboard sonatas, Domenico Scarlatti, and member of a family of musicians ubiquitous in Naples, was born in Palermo in 1660 and had his musical training in Rome, where he enjoyed the patronage of Queen Christina of Sweden. In 1684 he was appointed maestro de cappella to the Spanish Viceroy of Naples. There, for the next twenty years, he busied himself in the composition and performance of operas that enjoyed currency elsewhere in Italy and as far north as Brunswick and Leipzig. In 1702 he moved to Florence in hope of an appointment at the court of Prince Ferdinando de Medici and then to Rome. He returned to Naples in 1708 at the invitation of a new Viceroy and it seems to have been in his later years, during his attention to purely instrumental music, after his long involvement with opera, serenatas, cantatas and church music. 
Manfredini, Locatelli, Geminiani and Sammartini belong to another generation. 

Franceso Manfredini (1684-1762) 
Francesco Manfredini, born in Pistoia in 1684, like Corelli studied music in Bologna, in the musical establishment attached to the great Basilica of San Petronio, where he worked intermittently, with a period seemingly in the service of the ruler of Monaco. He spent the last 35 years of his life in his native city as maestro di cappella at the cathedral. His instrumental works belong to the period before his return to Pistoia, written and published in Bologna in the first twenty years of the century.

Pietro Locatelli (1695-1764)
Pietro Antonio Locatelli was born in Bergamo in 1695 and may perhaps have studied very briefly with Corelli in Rome in 1712. He enjoyed the early patronage of Cardinal Ottoboni and later of a patron of Vivaldi, the Habsburg governor of Mantua, under whom he held the title of virtuoso de camera. In 1729 he settled in Amsterdam, restricting his own career as a virtuoso performer and directing his attention largely to gifted amateurs. His first collection of concerti grossi was published in Amsterdam in 1721 and revised eight years later, when he made his home in that city.

Francesco Geminiani (1687-1762)
The violinist and composer Francesco Geminiani, born in Lucca in 1687, was a pupil of Corelli and of Alessandro Scarlatti in Rome, but moved in 1714 to London, where he initially enjoyed the patronage of Baron Kielmansegge, who, as chamberlain to the King, had been instrumental in Händel's appointment in Hanover and his further acceptance by the new court in London. Geminiani had very considerable success in England and in Ireland both as a composer and as a performer. His treatises on various aspects of performance had wide circulation in his own time and have proved a valuable source of information for later scholars and players. He died in Dublin in 1762.

Giovanni Battista Sammartini (1700 or 1701-1775)
The work of Giovanni Battista Sammartini leads forward to a new kind of instrumental music, the symphony, which had much of its development in Vienna and South Germany. Sammartini himself was probably born in Milan, the son of an emigrant French oboist, and spent his life in the city, where he enjoyed a reputation that in Italy was largely local, but abroad was very considerable.

Classic Baroque Music | Late Baroque Music I | Late Baroque Music II
Early English Baroque Music


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