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Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

1710 - 1736

Giovanni Battista Draghi (Italian pronunciation: [dʒoˈvanni batˈtista ˈdraːɡi]; 4 January 1710 – 16 March 1736), best known as Pergolesi (Italian: [perɡoˈleːzi]) or Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, was an Italian composer, violinist and organist.

Key Works

(b. Iesi, January 4, 1710; d. Pozzuoli, March 16, 1736)

Italian composer. He was an important figure in the development of 18th-century Italian opera buffa. His extraordinary influence and posthumous fame were a direct result of the popularity of his two-act comic intermezzo, Laservapadrona (1733), which by the 1750s had become known throughout Europe. After his initial studies in Iesi, Pergolesi went to Naples sometime between 1720 and 1725 to study at the Conservatorio dei Poveri di Gesu Cristo. His first opera seria, Salustia (1732), was met with indifference, mostly because the celebrated cas-trato Nicolini, who had been engaged to sing the lead role, fell ill and died before the performance. Later that year Pergolesi’s three-act comedy Lo f rate ’nnamorato, written in Neapolitan dialect, was a runaway hit. Soon after its premiere, earthquakes rattled Naples; at services of public atonement on December 31,1732, a Mass in F by Pergolesi and his settings of several vesper psalms were performed in the church of Santa Maria della Stella. Pergolesi’s second effort at opera seria, II prigioniero superbo, composed in the summer of 1733, was not a success, but it contained as its intermezzo La serva padrona, which created a sensation.

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi by Vincenzo Roscioni

 "Stabat Mater" (1736)

00:00 "Stabat Mater Dolorosa"
04:39 "Cujus animam gementem"
07:47 "O quam tristis et afflicta"
10:22 "Quae moerebat et dolebat"
13:12 "Quis est homo"—"Pro peccatis suae gentis..."
16:14 "Vidit suum dulcem natum"
19:48 "Eja mater fons amoris"
22:42 "Fac ut ardeat cor meum"
25:23 "Sancta mater, istud agas"
31:22 "Fac ut portem Christi mortem"
35:06 "Inflammatus et accensus"
37:57 "Quando corpus morietur" —"Amen..."

In 1734 Pergolesi fashioned his third opera seria, Adriano in Siria, using a libretto by Metastasio. Again, the interpolated intermezzo, La contadina astuta, was the more successful work. A new opera, L’olimpiade, also to a libretto by Metastasio, was produced the following January in Rome and was initially a failure. (According to one report, the composer, seated at the harpsichord, was hit by an orange during a performance.) Pergolesi returned to Naples. By the summer of 1735 his health was failing, but in his final months he managed to write a new opera buffa, II Flaminio, the cantata Orfeo, and settings of the Stabat mater and Salve regina. In January 1736 he was taken to a Franciscan monastery in Pozzuoli, where he died two months later. In the years following his death, the rampant popularity of La serva padrona caused many pieces of music that were circulating in manuscript to be wrongly attributed to Pergolesi. Their number includes several of the tunes that Stravinsky used in Pulcinella.

Magnificat en C

Mass in F Major

Messa in Fa (Kyrie e Gloria) Missa romana

Mass in D major Ghislieri Consort

Flute Concerto G major

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Italian composer whose intermezzo La serva padrona (“The Maid Turned Mistress”) was one of the most celebrated stage works of the 18th century.

His family name was Draghi, but, having moved to Jesi from Pergola, the family was called Pergolesi, meaning “of Pergola.” Sometime after 1720 he attended the Conservatorio dei Poveri at Naples, where he earned a high reputation as a violinist. In 1732 he was appointed maestro di cappella to the prince of Stigliano at Naples and produced a Neapolitan opera buffa, Lo frate ’nnammorato, and a mass (probably his Mass in D). Both were well received. In 1733 his opera seria Il prigionier superbo was produced. But it was the comic intermezzo La serva padrona, inserted between the acts of Il prigionier superbo, that achieved success. In 1734 Pergolesi was appointed deputy maestro di cappella of Naples, and in May he went to Rome to direct the performance of his Mass in F. His subsequent operas met with only occasional success. His health began to fail, and in 1736 he left Naples for the Franciscan monastery at Pozzuoli, near Naples, where he finished his last work, the celebrated Stabat Mater. He died in extreme poverty at age 26 and was buried at the cathedral at Pozzuoli.

When Pergolesi died, his fame had scarcely spread beyond Rome and Naples, but later in the century it grew enormously. The success of La serva padrona was largely posthumous, and it reached its peak after its performance in Paris in 1752. There it led to la guerre des bouffons (“the war of the buffoons”), with musical forgers vying to produce spurious works of Pergolesi, leaving some uncertainty about the authenticity of works attributed to him. Some of the works credited to Pergolesi by Igor Stravinsky in arrangements he made for his ballet Pulcinella (1920) are among those of doubtful authenticity.

Pergolesi’s serious style is best illustrated in his Stabat Mater and in his masses, which demonstrate his ability to handle large choral and instrumental forces. His gift of comic characterization is best shown in the classic La serva padrona.

4 Concertinos For String Orchestra

00:01 Concertino 01 in G major
11:14 Concertino 02 in G major
20:58 Concertino 03 in A major 
30:11 Concertino 04 in F minor

Chamber and Organ Work

Concerto per Violino Archi e B.C. in SI Bem maggiore - Allegro
Trio Sonata per due Violini Cello e Cembalo in DO maggiore
Sinfonia per Violoncello e B.C. in FA maggiore - Adagio
Concerto per Violino Archi e B.C. in SI Bem maggiore - Allegro
Allegro per Organo in SOL maggiore
Trio Sonata per due Violini Cello e Cembalo in SOL minore
Sonata per Violino e B.C. in SOL maggiore
Allegro per Organo in FA maggiore
Trio Sonata per due Violini Cello e Cembalo in SI bem maggiore
Concerto per Violino Archi e B.C. in SI Bem maggiore - Largo
Sinfonia per Violoncello e B.C. in FA maggiore - Comodo
Sinfonia per Violoncello e B.C. in FA maggiore - Allegro
Sinfonia per Violoncello e B.C. in FA maggiore - Presto

 L'olimpiade 1

L'Olimpiade is an opera in the form of a dramma per musica in three acts by the Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. Pergolesi took the text, with a few modifications, from the libretto of the same name by Pietro Metastasio. The opera first appeared during the Carnival season of 1735 at the Teatro Tordinona (it) in Rome and "came to be probably the most admired" of the more than 50 musical settings of Metastasio’s drama.

It is regarded as "one of the finest opere serie of the early eighteenth century".

 L'olimpiade 2

 L'olimpiade 3


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