BAROQUE COMPOSERS AND MUSICIANS

Pietro Antonio Locatelli

Pietro Antonio Locatelli, born in Bergamo, Italy in 1695, might be called the first of the great baroque violin virtuosi.

He began playing the violin as a boy at S. Maria Maggiore, Bergamo. His talent was clearly recognized, for at the age of 16, in 1711, he was given leave in to travel to Rome, where he perhaps studied with Valentini (though probably not with Corelli). Appeared often at S. Lorenzo in Damaso between 1717 and 1723; was named virtuoso da camera at Mantua in 1725, but freely pursued other engagements, including performances at Venice (1725), Bavaria (1727), and Berlin and Kassel (1728).

In 1729 Locatelli moved to Amsterdam a major centre of European publishing, where he lived for the rest of his life, leading a group of amateur musicians and teaching. He released in 1721 a corrected version of his concerti grossi in 1729; two years later he received a 15-year exclusive privilege for the printing of his music in the Netherlands, renewing it in 1747; from 1741 he sold imported Italian violin strings as well.

Though his playing was highly praised, some observers found it too brilliant; likewise, the originality of his works was admired, while others criticized a lack of technique and invention. As a composer he focused on the sonata and concerto, achieving a fusion of sorts between the Roman and Venetian styles; his caprices for solo violin in L'arte del violino (Amsterdam, 1733) at one time earned him the title "Paganini of the 18th century."

An extensive art collection, along with a library featuring books on history, philosophy, and science in addition to music, testify to his breadth of learning.


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