Nicola Matteis (Matheis) (fl. c. 1670 – c. 1698) was a leading Baroque violinist in London and a composer of significant popularity in his time.Very little is known of his early life, although Matteis was probably born in Naples, describing himself as 'Napolitano' in several of his works. He came to London in the early 1670s and had a merchant as a sponsor, who schooled him in the ways of currying favor from the gentry (by allowing them to accompany him in parlor recitals and other minor performances). He enjoyed great artistic and commercial success with his published music, but is said to have ended his days in ill health and poverty.Matteis is credited with changing the English taste for violin playing from the French style to a newer, Italian one. Contemporaries described him as using a longer bow, with a new bow hold (closer to that used by modern players). His reputation grew through his lifetime and resulted in high praise for his live performances (in concert, audiences were often certain that more than one violin was being played) and widespread popularity for his music. Knowing many of his customers were amateurs, Matteis tended to give precise instructions with his published music, providing detailed notes on bowing, explanations of ornaments, tempos, and other directions. These notes have proved valuable resources for scholars reconstructing the performance practices of the time.
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