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Classical Era


In India, a British force under Robert Clive seizes Arcot from the French • David Hume (Scot): Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals • French writers Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu and d’Alembert produce first volume of the Encycolpedie 

In India, British troops under Robert Clive capture Trichinopoly from the French • Britain changes from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar, omitting 11 days from September to make the adjustment • American scientist Benjamin Franklin conducts his kite experiment, proving lightning flash and electric spark discharge to be the same
French troops are sent by Marquis Duquesne, governor of Quebec to occupy the British-held Ohio Valley; the colonial government of Virginia sends surveyor George Washington to demand that the French withdraw; the French decline, and build two forts • To increase trade between Portugal and Brazil, Portuguese dictator Sebastiao Carvalho urges racial equality and the appointment of native Brazilians to key government posts • The British Museum is founded Samuel Richardson (Eng): novel Sir Charles Grandison • Carlo Goldoni (It): play La Locandiera
A concordat between the Vatican and Spain makes Spanish Church largely independent of Rome • Representatives of American colonies discuss common defence plan at the Albany Convention; Benjamin Franklin’s proposal of union rejected • France recalls governor-general, Marquis Dupleix, from India, leaving British influence unopposed •
Jean-Honoré Fragonard – Musical Contest
The 'French and Indian Wars' begin in N. America • An earthquake devastates Lisbon (Port); 30,000 killed • Voltaire (Fr):
The Maid of Orleans • Rousseau (Fr): Discourse on the Origin of Inequality • Samuel Johnson (Eng) completes his Dictionary of the English Language (begun 1746)

French writers Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu and d’Alembert produce first volume of the Encycolpedie (1751)




Francesco Geminiani publishes his violin treatise The Art of Playing on the Violin, in London.

Geminiani - The Art of Playing on the Violin: "Composition No. 6" 

17 January
Tomaso Albinoni, prolific Italian composer who wrote in excess of 80 operas, 100 instrumental sonatas and 60 concertos, dies in Venice aged 79. He is best known for an Adagio that is barely by him at all.

The poet Pietro Metastasio engages Franz Joseph Haydn to give music lessons to one of his pupils, Fraulein Martinez (who will later become a respected composer). In exchange for the service, Haydn receives free lodging over the next three years.

4 November
Tommaso Traetta launches his operawriting career with the success of Il Farnace at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples.

French composer Franco-Andre Philidor, currently an English resident, embarks on a short chess tour. He plays before Frederick the Great in Potsdam and demonstrates his mental dexterity in Berlin, playing three simultaneous games blindfolded and winning them all.

George Frideric Handel composes his last orchestral work, the Organ Concerto in B flat (Op. 7 No. 3). This year he beings losing sight in his left eye.

Handel : Organ Concerto in B flat major, Op. 7, No. 3

19 November
Acante et Cephise, ou La sympathie, a three-act pastorale heroique by Jean-Philippe Rameau, is first performed at the Paris Opera. The work is remembered chiefly for its fireworks-filled overture.

Rameau Acanthe et Céphise Ouverture

Rameau - Acante et Céphise; Vive la race de nos Rois



Johann Joachim Quantz publishes his Versuch einer Anweisung die Flote traversiere zu spielen (Essay on a Course for Playing the Transverse Flute).

Domenico Scarlatti oversees the compilation and copying of his 30 Keyboard Sonatas, Volume 1 and Volume II. Both the castrato Farinelli and the Queen of Spain may have encouraged Scarlatti to produce the manuscripts, in exchange for paying off his gambling debts. Eleven more volumes, containing 30 sonatas each, follow over the next five years. Many of the single-movement pieces draw from Spanish folk music, simulating guitar techniques, stamping and clapping.

Domenico Scarlatti, 60 Sonatas, Vol.1 Early Sonatas

No. I (K. 3, Longo 378) in A Minor
No. II (K. 7, Longo 379) in A Minor
No. III (K. 16, Longo 397) in B-Flat Major
No. IV (K. 18, Longo 416) in D Minor
No. V (K. 28. Longo 373) in E Major
No. VI (K. 29, Longo 461) in D Major
No. VII (K. 44, Longo 432) in F Major
No. VIII (K. 46, Longo 25) in E Major
No. IX (K. 54, Longo 241) in A Minor
No. X (K. 57, Longo S. 38) in B-Flat Major
No. XI (K. 84, Longo 10) in C Minor
No. XII (K. 52, Longo 267) in D Minor
No. XIII (K. 96, Longo 465) in D Major
No. XIV (K. 105, Longo 204 in G Major

No. XV (K. 115, Longo 407) in C Minor
No. XVI (K. 116, Longo 452) in C Minor

No. XVII (K. 119, Longo 415) in D Major
No. XVIII (K. 120, Longo 215) in D Minor

No. XIX (K. 132, Longo 457 in C Major
No. XX (K. 133, Longo 282) in C Major

No. XXI (K. 175, Longo 429) in A Minor

Domenico Scarlatti, Vol.2 Sonatas of the Middle Period

No. XXII (K. 140, Longo 107) in D Major

No. XXIII (K. 208, Longo 238) in A Major
No. XXIV (K. 209, Longo 428) in A Major

No. XXV (K. 215, Longo 323) in E Major
No. XXVI (K. 216, Longo 273) in E Major

No. XXVII (K. 238. Longo 27) in F Minor
No. XXVIII (K. 239, Longo 281) in F Minor

No. XXIX (K. 259, Longo 103) in G Major
No. XXX (K. 260, Longo 124) in G Major

No. XXXI (K. 263, Longo 321) in E Minor
No. XXXII (K. 264, Longo 466) in E Major

No. XXXIII (K. 308, Longo 359) in C Major
No. XXXIV (K. 309, Longo 454) in C Major

No. XXXV (K. 366, Longo 119) in F Major
No. XXXVI (K. 367, Longo 172) in F Major

No. XXXVII (K. 394, Longo 275) in E Minor
No. XXXVIII (K. 395, Longo 65) in E Major

Domenico Scarlatti, Vol.3 Late Sonatas

No. XXXIX (K. 402, Longo 427) in E Minor
No. XL (K. 403, Longo 470) in E Major

No. XLI (K. 420, Longo S. 2) in C Major
No. XLII (K. 421, Longo 252) in C Major

No. XLIII (K. 426, Longo 128) in C Minor
No. XLIV (K. 427, Longo 286) in G Major

No. XLV (K. 460, Longo 324) in C Major
No. XLVI (K. 461, Longo 8) in C Major

No. XLVII (K. 470, Longo 304) in G Major
No. XLVIII (K. 471, Longo 82) in G Major

No. XLIX (K. 490, Longo 206) in D Major
No. L (K. 491, Longo 164) in D Major
No. LI (K. 492, Longo 14) in D Major

No. LII (K. 493, Longo S. 24) in G Major
No. LIII (K. 494, Longo 287) in G Major

No. LIV (K. 513, Longo S. 3) in C Major

No. LV (K. 516, Longo S. 12) in D Minor
No. LVI (K. 517, Longo 266) in D Minor

No. LVII (K. 518, Longo 116) in F Major
No. LVIII (K. 519, Longo 475) in F Minor

No. LIX (K. 544, Longo 497) in B-Flat Major
No. LX (K. 545, Longo 500) in B-Flat Major

John Stanley publishes a second set of Ten Voluntarys for organ, Op. 6. The collection includes the joyful Trumpet Voluntary in D Major (No. 5), now a wedding favourite.

John Stanley: Voluntary V (Opus 6)

23 January
Composer and pianist Muzio Clementi is born in Rome.

26 February
George Frideric Handel directs a successful premiere of his oratorio Jephtha at Covent Garden. Blind in his left eye, sight in his right eye is now deteriorating.

George Frideric Handel - `JEPHTHA` HWV 70
Oratorio by Handel with a libretto by the Rev. Thomas Morell, based on the story of Jephtha in Judges (Chapter 11) and Jephthes sive votum (Jeptha or the Vow) (1554) by George Buchanan.
The story revolves around Jephtha's rash promise to the Almighty that if he is victorious, he will sacrifice the first creature he meets on his return. He is met by his beloved daughter Iphis. Unlike the original Biblical story, an angel intervenes to stop the sacrifice, and Iphis only needs to dedicate her life to the Lord. In contrast, the Biblical story strongly implies that her father chose to sacrifice her, but a short reprieve is arranged, after which Iphis dutifully returns and is killed, but some Christians have suggested that she was instead dedicated to the Lord and required to observe a life of perpetual virginity.

1 August
The revival of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s La serva padrona (1733) causes great commotion in Paris, contributing to the escalating ‘Querelle des Bouffons’ (Quarrel of the Buffoons)—a bitter rivalry between the respective supporters of Italian opera buffa and traditional French opera.

Pergolesi - La Serva Padrona 

18 October
Jean-Jacques Rousseau achieves his first operatic success with Le devin du village (The Village Soothsayer), introduced at Fontainebleau before King Louis XV.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Le Devin du Village 
Colin and Colette love one another, yet they suspect each other of being unfaithful — in Colin's case, with the lady of the manor, and in Colette's with a courtier. They each seek the advice and support of the village soothsayer in order to reinforce their love. After a series of deceptions, Colin and Colette reconcile and are happily married.

3 November
The royal surgeon William Blomheld attempts to restore George Frideric Handel's sight at Guy’s Hospital, London. The operation produces only temporary benefit.



George Frideric Handel is now blind. He relies on John Christopher Smith (his career-long friend and assistant) and Smith’s son, also John Christopher (1712-1795), for dictation and copying services.

1 March
Jean-Jacques Rousseau witnesses the triumph of his one-act Le Devin du village (premiered 1752) at the Paris Opera. Promoting simplicity, rusticity and the common man, the opera remains popular for well over half a century.

Pietro Metastasio introduces Franz Joseph Haydn to Nicola Antonio Porpora, from whom he receives valuable musical tuition. Haydn will later reminisce: ‘There was no lack of “ass”, “blockhead”, “rascal” and pokes in the ribs, but I willingly put up with it all, for I profited immensely from Porpora in singing, composition and Italian.’

29 May
Franz Joseph Haydn's satirical singspiel Der krumme Teufel (The Crooked Devil) is performed with great success at the Karntnertortheater in Vienna.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach publishes the first volume of his Versuch uber die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen (Essay on the Proper Method of Playing the Clavier). Highly regarded in its time, the treatise is now one of the most important historical references for the interpretation of 18th-century keyboard music.

30 August
Niccolo Jommelli’s opera La clemenza di Tito is first staged in Stuttgart for the birthday celebrations of Duchess Friederike of Wurttemberg. Jomelli is now famous throughout Europe and in much demand, having been offered posts at Mannheim, Stuttgart and Lisbon. He accepts the post of Ober-Kapellmeister to Duke Karl-Eugen of Wiirttemberg, at Stuttgart, beginning official duties the following year.

9 January
Jean-Joseph Cassanea de Mondonville’s opera Titon et l'Aurore is introduced with great success at the Paris Opera. Together with Jean-Philippe Rameau’s revised Castor et Pollux (1737) of the following year, the work is singled out to champion the cause of French opera in the ongoing ‘Quarrel of the Bufoons’.

J. J. de Mondonville: Titon et l'Aurore (1753) -Ouverture & Prologue - Part I 

J. J. de Mondonville: Titon et l'Aurore (1753) -Prologue - Part II 

5 February
In Dresden Johann Adolph Hasse enjoys the magnificent premiere of his opera Solimano, featuring camels, elephants, lavish costumes and dazzling stage effects.

Johann Adolf Hasse - Solimano - Marcia alla turca - Viva il prode, viva il forte

Jean-Jacques Rousseau publishes his ‘Lettre sur la musique frangaise’, fuelling the ‘Querelle des Bouflons’ by praising Italian music and attacking the French operatic style, epitomised in the works of Jean-Philippe Rameau. A few months later, orchestral players of the Paris Opera burn an effigy of the philosopher-composer in protest.

... there is neither a clear heat nor a melody in French music because the French language is not inclined to either. French song is endless squealing, unbearable to the unbiased ear; French harmony is brutish and expressionless...

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, from his ‘Lettre sur la musique frangaise’

The Querelle des Bouffons ("Quarrel of the Comic Actors"), also known as the Guerre des Bouffons ("War of the Comic Actors") and the Guerre des Coins ("War of the Corners"), was the name given to a battle of rival musical philosophies which took place in Paris between 1752 and 1754. The controversy concerned the relative merits of French and Italian opera.

It was sparked by the reaction of literary Paris to a performance of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's short intermezzo La serva padrona at the Académie royale de musique in Paris on 1 August 1752. La serva padrona was performed by an itinerant Italian troupe of comic actors, known as buffoni. The work had already been given in Paris in 1746, but had attracted little notice. This time it provoked a full-scale war of words between the defenders of the French operatic tradition and the champions of Italian music. In the controversy that followed, critics such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau (in the queen's corner) and Friedrich Melchior Grimm, together with other writers associated with the Encyclopédie, praised Italian opera buffa and attacked French lyric tragedy, a style originated by Jean-Baptiste Lully and promoted among then-living composers such as French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau (in the king's corner).



Joseph Goupy caricatures George Frideric Handel as a pig in ‘The Charming Brute’, alleging the composer’s remoteness and gluttony.

Niccolo Piccinni’s Le donne dispettose, his first opera buffa, is introduced with success at the Teatro dei Fiorentini in Naples.

Jeam-Philippe Rameau's opera Castor et Pollux (1737), revised and performed in Paris, is hailed an exemplar of French opera in the continuing ‘Quarrel of the Buffoons’. Rameau also publishes a response to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s damning ‘Lettre’ on French music of the previous year, with ‘Observations sur notre instinct pour la musique’ (Observations on our instinct for music).

2 May
Vicente Martín y Soler, Valencian composer of opera and ballet, born.

24 September
Christoph Willibald Gluck’s opera Le Cinesi (The Chinese Women), to a libretto by Pietro Metastasio, premieres before Vienna’s imperial court. The emperor rewards the composer with a gold snuffbox filled with 100 ducats. Gluck shortly becomes musical director of Vienna’s Burgtheater.

Christoph Willibald Gluck - Le Cinesi, azione teatrale in 1 atto per soli e orchestra Wq. 18

26 October
Baldassare Galuppi and librettist Carlo Goldoni create a sensation with their comic opera Il filosofo di campagna (The Country Philosopher), first staged at the Teatro San Samuele in Venice.

Baldassarre Galuppi - Il filosofo di campagna

Tritemio wants his daughter Eugenia to marry Nardo, a rich farmer, known as "the Philosopher", but Eugenia is in love with the nobleman Rinaldo. Lesbina, housemaid of Tritemio, in order to avoid that Nardo meets Eugenia, takes the place of the girl. Nardo, who has never seen Eugenia before, ends up falling in love with Lesbina, convinced that she is the true daughter of Tritemio.

After a series of misunderstandings Nardo learns of the true identity of Lesbina, but he accepts the housmaid all the same and remains in love with her.

Lesbina persuades Tritemio that she wants to marry him and a notary is called. When the notary arrives, without Tritemio knowing it, a double wedding is celebrated, between Nardo and Lesbina and between Rinaldo and Eugenia. Tritemio has to resign himself to the situation, but he finds his consolation marrying Lena, a niece of Nardo.


Vicente Martín y Soler

Vicente Martín y Soler (2 May 1754 – 30 January 1806) was a Valencian composer of opera and ballet. Although relatively obscure now, in his own day he was compared favorably with his contemporary, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as a composer of opera buffa. In his time he was called "Martini lo spagnuolo" ("Martini the Spaniard"); in modern times, he has been called "the Valencian Mozart".

He was born in Valencia and studied music in Bologna under Giovanni Battista Martini. His first opera was Il tutore burlato (1775), to an Italian libretto adapted from Giovanni Paisiello's La frascatana, which in turn was based on a play of the same title by Filippo Livigni. This was premiered in 1775 at the Teatro Real Coliseo in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, north of Madrid. In 1776 or 1777 the composer had the libretto translated into Spanish and put it into zarzuela form, adding spoken dialogue, as La madrileña, o El tutor burlado. This was performed in Madrid during 1778, by which time Martín y Soler was back in Italy.

In 1777, he travelled to Naples, where he composed for the Teatro di San Carlo. During this period, he worked with choreographer Charles le Picq to compose four ballets d’action: La Griselda (1779, derived from the libretto by Apostolo Zeno), I ratti sabini (1780), La bella Arsene (1781), and Tamas Kouli-Kan (1781, an interpretation of Vittorio Amedeo Cigna-Santi's libretto). He also worked with Zeno on an opera seria, Andromaca, in 1780. In addition, he composed two mezzocarattere ballets, La sposa persiana (1778) and Il barbiere di Siviglia (1781, based on the play by Pierre Beaumarchais). In Naples, he also worked with court librettist Luigi Serio on the composition of opere serie, producing Ifigenia (1779) and Ipermestra (1780).

In 1785 he moved to Vienna, where he enjoyed great success with three operas composed to texts by Lorenzo Da Ponte, who was simultaneously collaborating with Mozart and Antonio Salieri. These three comedies were Una cosa rara (1786, based on the play La luna de la sierra by Luis Vélez de Guevara); Il burbero di buon cuore (1786, based on the play by Carlo Goldoni); and L'arbore di Diana (1787). He is credited with introducing, in Una cosa rara, the waltz to Vienna; and a melody from the same work is quoted by Mozart in the banquet scene in Act 2 of Don Giovanni (1787).

In 1788, Soler was invited to the Russian court at St. Petersburg, where he wrote three Russian language operas, The Unfortunate Hero Kosmetovich (1789, libretto written in part by Catherine the Great), Melomania (1790), and Fedul and his Children (1791, with Vasili Pashkevich). Moving to London for the 1795 season, he provided three more Italian language operas: La capricciosa corretta (libretto again by Lorenzo Da Ponte, partly adapted from Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew); L'isola del piacere and Le nozze de' contadini spagnuoli. He returned to St. Petersburg and was appointed maestro di capella at the Smolny Institute (then called the Educational Society of Noble Maidens) in 1796. After returning to St Petersburg, he wrote his last opera, La festa del villaggio (1798).

He also wrote a number of tragic ballets during his residence as Court Composer there, including Didon abandonée (1792), Amour et Psyché (1793, based on Psyché by Molière, Corneille and Philippe Quinault), Tancrède (1799) and Le retour de Poliorcète (1799). He died, still in his post, in 1806.

Vicente Martín y Soler - L'arbore di Diana ("The Tree of Chastity") Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Conducted by Claude White

Erie Mills, Britomarte
Brenda Warren, Clizia
Susan Quittmeyer, Cloe
Gimi Beni, Doristo
Sunny Joy Langton, Amore
Elizabeth Hynes, Diana
John Aler, Endimione
Ronald Raines, Silvio

Vicente Martín y Soler - Ouverture IL TUTORE BURLATO (LA MADRILEÑA)
Opera buffa in three acts
Libretto : Filippo Livigno
Palacio de la Granja de San Ildefonso, 1775

Soler Una cosa rara 1

Soler Una cosa rara 2

Soler Una cosa rara 3



20 January
Johann Adolph Hasse revives Ezio (1730, libretto by Pietro Metastasio) for a massive production in Dresden. The opera incorporates 400 soldiers, over 100 horses, eight mules and eight Bactrian camels. The closing ballet lasts over 40 minutes and involves 300 dancers. The considerable size and expense of the event highlights the importance and popularity of Hasse at this time.

23 June
Giovanni Battista Sammartini, aged 54, marries his second wife, Rosalinda Acquanio, aged 17.

26 March
The passion oratorio Der Tod Jesu, by Carl Heinrich Graun, is premiered in Berlin. It becomes one of the composer s most popular works, widely regarded as an exemplar of sacred music: conservative and measured, commensurate with the ideals of the Enlightenment.

Carl Heinrich Graun: „Der Tod Jesu" (Passionsoratorium)

12 May
Composer and violinist Giovanni Battista Viotti is born in Fontanetto da Po.

30 September
Francesco Durante, leading Neapolitan church composer and celebrated teacher (of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Niccolo Piccinni, Antonio Sacchini and Tommaso Traetta, to name a few), dies in Naples, ages 71.

1 December
Maurice Greene 
dies in London, aged 59.

William Boyce succeeds him as Master of the King’s Music.

Giovanni Battista Viotti

Giovanni Battista Viotti, (born May 12, 1755, Fontanetto da Po, Piedmont—died March 3, 1824, London), Italian violinist and composer, principal founder of the 19th-century school of violin playing.


In 1766 Viotti went to Turin, where he studied with the virtuoso Gaetano Pugnani after 1770. He travelled with Pugnani in Germany, Poland, and Russia and made his debut in Paris as a violinist in 1782. He became court musician to Marie-Antoinette and established himself as a teacher and opera impresario. In 1792 he went to London, where he conducted Italian operas and appeared as soloist in his own violin concerti at the Salomon Concerts. Accused of Jacobin sympathies, he went to Germany in 1798 but had returned to London by 1801 to resume his wine business, continuing to perform and compose privately as well. Following the failure of the business, he worked in Paris as director of the Italian opera from 1819 to 1822, after which he returned to London.

Viotti greatly developed the violin concerto, using the sonata form and a skilled orchestration. He wrote 29 violin concerti, of which No. 22 in A Minor became especially well known after Joseph Joachim revived it in the 1870s; 10 piano concerti, some of them transcriptions of the violin concerti; and string quartets and other chamber works.

Viotti - Violin Concerto No. 22 in A minor, G. 97

Viotti - Violin Concerto No.23 in G-major

Viotti - Violin Concerto No. 24 in B minor, G. 105

Viotti - Violin Concerto No.19 in G-minor

Giovanni Battista Viotti - Cello Concerto in C-major

Giovanni Battista Viotti 6 String Quartets Op.3
No.1 in A  0:00                 No.2 in C  13:07
No.3 in F  27:39               No.4 in B flat  37:29
No.5 in E flat  47:56        No.6 in E: Allegro  1:02:33


William Hogarth - Beer Street and Gin Lane

Jean-Honoré Fragonard – Musical Contest (1754)

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