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Tomaso Albinoni

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Tomaso Albinoni

Biography

Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni (8 June 1671, Venice, Italy – 17 January 1751, Venice) was an Italian Baroque composer.

Albinoni studied violin and singing. Relatively little is known about his life, especially considering his contemporary stature as a composer, and the comparatively well-documented period in which he lived. In 1694 he dedicated his Opus 1 to the fellow-Venetia, Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni. His first opera, Zenobia, regina de Palmireni, was produced in Venice in 1694. Albinoni was possibly employed in 1700 as a violinist to Charles IV, Duke of Mantua, to whom he dedicated his Opus 2 collection of instrumental pieces. In 1701 he wrote his hugely popular suites Opus 3, and dedicated that collection to Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Albinoni seems to have no other connection with that primary musical establishment in Venice, however, and achieved his early fame as an opera composer at many cities in Italy. During this time he was also composing instrumental music in abundance: prior to 1705, he mostly wrote trio sonatas and violin concertos, but between then and 1719 he wrote solo sonatas and concertos for oboe.

Unlike most composers of his time, he appears never to have sought a post at either a church or noble court, but then he was a man of independent means and had the option to compose music independently. In 1722, Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria, to whom Albinoni had dedicated a set of twelve concertos, invited him to direct two of his operas in Munich.

Around 1740, a collection of Albinoni's violin sonatas was published in France as a posthumous work, and scholars long presumed that meant that Albinoni had died by that time. However, it appears he lived on in Venice in obscurity; a record from the parish of San Barnaba indicates Tomaso Albinoni died in Venice in 1751, of diabetes mellitus.

Albinoni wrote at least fifty operas, of which twenty-eight were produced in Venice between 1723 and 1740. Most of his operatic works have been lost, largely because they were not published during his lifetime. However, nine collections of instrumental works were published. These were met with considerable success and consequent reprints. He is therefore known more as a composer of instrumental music (99 sonatas, 59 concerti and 9 sinfonie) today. He is the first Italian known to employ the oboe as a solo instrument in concerti (c. 1715, in his 12 concerti a cinque, op. 7).

His instrumental music attracted great attention from Johann Sebastian Bach, who wrote at least two fugues on Albinoni's themes. Part of Albinoni's work was lost in World War II with the destruction of the Dresden State Library. As a result, little is known of his life and music after the mid-1720s.


Works for Winds


References