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Galuppi, Baldassare (1706 - 1785)

Baldassare Galuppi was born on October 18, 1706 in Burano and died 1785. His nickname was "il Buranello" because he was born in the Venetian island of Burano. Galuppi's output was large and for instance composed 90 keyboard sonatas.

Galuppi was probably the most important italian composer for keyboard between Scarlatti and Clementi and is not far in style and quality from Haydn (who considered Galuppi his reference for musical theatre), or from C.P.E. Bach or from the first Mozart.

Galuppi was introduced to music by his father, a barber (like Antonio Vivaldi), who played the violin in small orchestras providing entr'acte music in venetian theatres of spoken comedy. Later Galuppi studied with Lotti, and at the end of the three years, he composed two arias in the opera " Il triomfo della virtu " in Teatro Saint Jean Chrysotome. In 1726 he worked for a time in Florence as harpsichordist in Teatro della Pergola, then returned to Venice in 1727, for the creation of the opera " Gli odii delusi dal sangue " at the Teatro San Angelo, under the direction of Antonio Vivaldi.

In 1729, collaborating with his former schoolmate Pescetti , Galuppi composed "Dorinda" for the Theatro San Samuele, an opera which was a considerable success and launched his theatrical career.

In 1741, Galuppi is invited in London to compose opere serie for the King's Theatre in the Haymarket. During his two years in England his operas were mostly successful, especially "Scipion in Cartagena" and "Sirbace".

He had his works published at John Walsh's, and for many years he remained one of London's favorite Italian composers. In 1748, he makes a triumph in Vienna with "Demetrio" and "Artaserse" on Metastasio's libretti, and is chosen to be vice maestro of the capella ducale of St Mark's.

In 1749, Galuppi had begun his brilliant career as an opera buffa composer, working principally with the librettist Carlo Goldoni. Galuppi composed "Arcadia in Brenta", the first comic-opera of the association Galuppi-Goldoni. On april, 22th of 1762, Galuppi is promoted to Maestro di cappella in 1762, and the same day, Goldoni, leaves Venise definitively.

After three years in Saint Petersbourg, Galuppi returns to Venice and get back to his activities, being devoted to the sacred music. But it is the English precentor of Venice, Robert Browning, who immortalised the composer in one of the most beautiful poems ever written on Serenissime.

It is not known which particular piece inspired Robert Browning's poem "A Toccata of Galuppi's": certainly the sound of the harpsichord and the "lesser thirds so plaintive, sixths diminished, sigh on sigh" seem to have conjured in his mind a moving image of life in 18th century Venice.

  1. Sonatas
Jan 5, 2016
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