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Friday Night Organ; Selling one's soul to the Devil and the murder of a 17th Century PUA, yup Italy con't.
Antonio Alessandro Boncompagno Stradella (1643 – 1682) was an Italian composer of the middle Baroque period. He enjoyed a dazzling career as a freelance composer, writing on commission, and collaborating with distinguished poets, producing over three hundred works in a variety of genres.
Not much is known about his early life, but he was from a Tuscan aristocratic family, educated at Bologna, and was already making a name for himself as a composer at the age of 20. In 1667 he moved to Rome where he composed for Christina, Queen of Sweden, mostly sacred music. He was involved in performances of four operas, two by Francesco Cavalli and two by Antonio Cesti. Stradella began to live a dissolute life. With Carlo Ambrogio Lonati he attempted to embezzle money from the Roman Catholic Church, but was found out: he fled the city, only returning much later when he thought it was safe. His numerous incautious affairs with women began to make him enemies among the powerful men of the city, and he had to leave Rome for good. YES he is a 17th century PUA.
In 1677 he went to Venice, where he was hired by a powerful nobleman, Alvise Contarini, as the music tutor to his mistress, Agnese Van Uffele. She and Stradella began an affair and fled Venice together for Turin, where they were protected by Marie Jeanne Baptiste of Savoy-Nemours, the regent of Savoy. Contarini followed and instructed the Archbishop that Uffele and Stradella must marry or that Uffele must take the veil. She did the latter, and then the two married in October; however, as Stradella left the convent after signing the contract, he was attacked from behind on 10 October by two would-be hired assassins, who believed him dead when they left him in the street. He was not. The two assassins took asylum with the French ambassador. That Contarini had hired the attackers became known, leading to complaints from the regent of Savoy to Louis XIV; the matter became a topic of negotiation between the courts. In 1678 Stradella fled to Genoa, where he met again with Lonati. He was paid to compose music for the local nobility and the Teatro Falconi.
In 1682 Stradella was stabbed to death at the Piazza Banchi. His infidelities were well-known, and a nobleman of the Lomellini family hired the killer that put an end to Stradella's life; but the identity of the killer was never discovered. Stradella was buried in the Santa Maria delle Vigne.
Trio sonata in D minor
String Sinfonias (Yes all of them!)
Giuseppe Tartini (1692 – 1770) Tartini was born in Pirano, a town on the peninsula of Istria, in the Republic of Venice (now in Slovenia) a descendant of one of the oldest aristocratic Piranese families.
Tartini's parents intended him to become a Franciscan friar and, in this way, he received basic musical training. He studied law at the University of Padua, where he became skilled at fencing. After his father's death in 1710, he married Elisabetta Premazore, a woman his father would have disapproved of because of her lower social class and age difference. Unfortunately, Elisabetta was a favorite of the powerful Cardinal Giorgio Cornaro, who promptly charged Tartini with abduction. Tartini fled Padua to go to the monastery of St. Francis in Assisi, where he could escape prosecution. While there, Tartini took up playing the violin.
Legend says when Tartini heard Francesco Maria Veracini's playing in 1716, he was impressed by it and dissatisfied with his own skill. He fled to Ancona and locked himself away in a room to practice, according to Charles Burney, "in order to study the use of the bow in more tranquility, and with more convenience than at Venice, as he had a place assigned him in the opera orchestra of that city".Tartini's skill improved tremendously and, in 1721, he was appointed Maestro di Cappella at the Basilica di Sant'Antonio in Padua, with a contract that allowed him to play for other institutions if he wished.
Tartini was the first known owner of a violin made by Antonio Stradivari in 1715, which Tartini bestowed upon his student Salvini, who in turn gave it to the Polish composer and virtuoso violinist Karol Lipiński upon hearing him perform: the instrument is thus known as the Lipinski Stradivarius. Tartini also owned and played the Antonio Stradivarius violin ex-Vogelweith from 1711.
In 1726, Tartini started a violin school which attracted students from all over Europe. Gradually, Tartini became more interested in the theory of harmony and acoustics, and from 1750 to the end of his life he published various treatises. He died in Padua.
Today, Tartini's most famous work is the "Devil's Trill Sonata", a solo violin sonata that requires a number of technically demanding double stop trills and is difficult even by modern standards. (One 19th-century myth had it that Tartini had six digits on his left hand, making these trills easier for him to play.) According to a legend embroidered upon by Madame Blavatsky, Tartini was inspired to write the sonata by a dream in which the Devil appeared at the foot of his bed playing the violin. Yeah Charlie Daniels, the Devil went to Padua long before Georgia.
“One night I dreamed I had made a pact with the devil for my soul. Everything went as I desired: my new servant anticipated my every wish. I had the idea of giving him my violin to see if he might play me some pretty tunes, but imagine my astonishment when I heard a sonata so unusual and so beautiful, performed with such mastery and intelligence, on a level I had never before conceived was possible. I was so overcome that I stopped breathing and woke up gasping. Immediately I seized my violin, hoping to recall some shred of what I had just heard; but in vain. The piece I then composed is without a doubt my best, and I still call it “The Devil’s Sonata,” but it falls so far short of the one that stunned me that I would have smashed my violin and given up music forever if I could but have possessed it.”
Here it is---Devil’s Trill Sonata
And the customary organ work: Celebre Largo
Francesco Onofrio Manfredini (1684 – 1762) was born at Pistoia to a trombonist. He studied violin with Giuseppe Torelli in Bologna, then a part of the Papal States, a leading figure in the development of the concerto grosso. He also took instruction in composition from Giacomo Antonio Perti, maestro di capella of the Basilica of San Petronio from 1696 when the orchestra was temporarily disbanded.
Although he composed oratorios, only his secular works remain in the repertoire. A contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi, his extant work shows the influence of the latter. He became a violinist, in 1700, in the orchestra of the Church of San Spirito in Ferrara. In 1704, however, he returned to Bologna, employed again in the re-formed orchestra of San Petronio. He became a member of the Accademia Filarmonica in the same year he published his first compositions, a set of twelve chamber sonatas he named Concertini per camera, Op. 1. In 1709, he also published Sinfonie da chiesa, Op. 2; ostensibly chamber pieces, they, in fact, complemented the earlier chamber sonatas.
After 1711, Manfredini spent an extended stay in Monaco, apparently in the service of Prince Antoine I. The prince had been a pupil of Louis XIV's favorite composer Jean Baptiste Lully, whose conductor's baton he had inherited. The precise nature of his relationship to the court of Monaco, and the length of his stay, are not known. Manfredini is first mentioned in court records in 1712. In 1718 he would publish, in Bologna, his Concerti Grossi for two violins and basso continuo, Op. 3, Nos. 1-12 which is dedicated to that ruler. Also copies of his Sinfonie, Op. 2 were found in the princely library. One indication of the nature of the relationship is that Prince Antoine stood as godfather to Manfredini's son Antonio Francesco; four other children were born to him during his stay in the principality. The composer does not reappear in the historical records until the year 1727, when he had returned to Pistoia as maestro di capella at St. Phillip's Cathedral, a post he would hold until his death in 1762.
Much of his music is presumed to have been destroyed after his death; only 43 published works and a handful of manuscripts are known.
Concerto Grosso in D major, opus 3, N° 9
Concerto for 2 Trumpets, Strings, Cembalo and Organ in D major
Pietro Alessandro Gaspare Scarlatti (1660 – 1725). was an Italian Baroque composer, known especially for his operas and chamber cantatas. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school of opera. He was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti.
Scarlatti was born in Palermo then part of the Kingdom of Sicily. He is generally said to have been a pupil of Giacomo Carissimi in Rome, and some theorize that he had some connection with northern Italy because his early works seem to show the influence of Stradella and Legrenzi. The production at Rome of his opera Gli equivoci nel sembiante (1679) gained him the support of Queen Christina of Sweden (who at the time was living in Rome), and he became her maestro di cappella. In February 1684 he became maestro di cappella to the viceroy of Naples, perhaps through the influence of his sister, an opera singer, who might have been the mistress of an influential Neapolitan noble. Here he produced a long series of operas, remarkable chiefly for their fluency and expressiveness, as well as other music for state occasions.
In 1702 Scarlatti left Naples and did not return until the Spanish domination had been superseded by that of the Austrians. In the interval he enjoyed the patronage of Ferdinando de' Medici, for whose private theatre near Florence he composed operas, and of Cardinal Ottoboni, who made him his maestro di cappella, and procured him a similar post at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome in 1703.
After visiting Venice and Urbino in 1707, Scarlatti took up his duties in Naples again in 1708, and remained there until 1717. By this time Naples seems to have become tired of his music; the Romans, however, appreciated it better, and it was at the Teatro Capranica in Rome that he produced some of his finest operas (Telemaco, 1718; Marco Attilio Regolò, 1719; La Griselda, 1721), as well as some noble specimens of church music, including a mass for chorus and orchestra, composed in honor of Saint Cecilia for Cardinal Acquaviva in 1721. His last work on a large scale appears to have been the unfinished serenata for the marriage of the prince of Stigliano in 1723. He died in Naples in 1725 and is entombed there at the church of Santa Maria di Montesanto.
Concerto grosso №5
Toccata in G Minor
Next week Albinoni and Vivaldi. My peculiar penchant for the Organ does not displace my interest in the surviving violins of the period. Cremona Italy is the source of the first great violins. Fewer than a thousand of these various instruments remain. Here is a short expose of various period violins:
OK I Mentioned Giacomo Antonio Perti but left him off the list SORRY!
Here is one of his Masses for 8 voices
I was laughing so hard at the bio of Stradella, that until now I could not bring myself to listen to his works.
I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face doing so, I fear.
So, thank you for introducing these artists and not having let aside Perti, whose Mass for 8 voices I enjoyed.
Basically you confirmed my prejudice considering him and his music, which I only know some sacral works of.
I noted the quite long duration of the life of this musician. It seems the absence of scandals, when compared to Stradella, for example, has its upsides like a much lower density of daggers and knives coming the musicians’ way.
Scarlatti’s Concerto grosso no 5, as well as the Toccata in G performed on the Harpsichord were a pleasure to listen to. The Toccata comes as being a little predictable in its structure, but I don’t mind that, because the sheer sound of it (as well the recording as the instrument, itself) more than makes up for that.
Indeed, it is a little surprising, that in developing the piano (from it, I believe) the special phonetic qualities of the harpsichord have been left aside and not transferred.
Manfredini’s Concerto grosso in D major opus 3 no 9 just is a little short for a title with such a grand name - in my opinion. I was really disappointed that it was over so fast.
I also appreciate of the concerto for two trumpets, strings, cembalo and organ - and come to notice that I have a ‘soft spot’ for the sustained and ‘idyllic’ order as expressed by Manfredini, Scarlatti and Perti - and many other baroque artists.
That is not to say I would not have a good thing to say about the two pieces of Tartini presented above.
I listened to both of them, twice. And his ‘devil’s trill sonata’ surely is extraordinary and a must listen, because of its unpredictability and very interesting structure and ways of sound design by using and abusing the instrument at hand in an uncommon manner.
Looking forward to Vivaldi. Never heard of Albinoni, though.
If I may be so frank: You are very kind to not have told Tower to go and shove his 99 balloons up a horse’s arse. In my humble opinion.