Pietro Locatelli, classical music composer
Pietro Antonio Locatelli (born 3 September 1695 in Bergamo; died 30 March 1764 in Amsterdam) was an Italian Baroque composer and violinist.
Little is known about Locatelli's childhood. In his early youth he was the third violinist and held the title of virtuoso in the cappella musicale (musical establishment) of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo. His first violin teachers were probably Ludovico Ferronati and Carlo Antonio Marino, both of whom were members of the cappella. The maestro di cappella, Francesco Ballarotti, may have taught him composition. In autumn 1711 Locatelli went to Rome to seek greater recognition.
Locatelli began studying in Rome in autumn 1711, probably under Antonio Montanari or Giuseppe Valentini and perhaps for a short time under Arcangelo Corelli, who died in January 1713. In a letter of 17 March 1714 Locatelli wrote to his father in Bergamo that he was a confirmed member of the compita accademia di varj instrumenti, the household musicians of Prince Michelangelo I Caetani (1685–1759), where Valentini had worked as a violinist and composer since no later than 1710. Between 1716 and 1722, Locatelli was also a member of the congregazione generale dei musici di S. Cecilia, and thus under the protection of the noble prelate and future Cardinal Camillo Cybo. He also assisted other Roman noble houses, often including that of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni in the church of San Lorenzo e San Damaso, probably until 7 February 1723. While in Rome, Locatelli debuted as a composer. In 1721 his XII Concerti grossi, Op. 1, dedicated to Camillo Cybo, was published in Amsterdam.
Travels through Italy and Germany
From 1723 to 1728 Locatelli travelled through Italy and Germany. Mantua, Venice, Munich, Dresden, Berlin, Frankfurt and Kassel are the only places he is known to have visited. Most of his concert compositions, including the violin concertos and the capricci, were probably written in this period. They were published later in Amsterdam. It is believed that his performances made him famous, but almost no source attests to his attaining high virtuosity.
Locatelli's activity at the court of the regent of Mantua, the landgrave Philipp von Hessen-Darmstadt, is attested by a 1725 document in which the landgrave refers to him as "our virtuoso". How often and in what capacity Locatelli performed at that court is not known. Also unknown is the time of his activity in Venice, although he certainly went there.
One notice describes Locatelli's visit to Munich. On 26 June 1727, the "foreign virtuoso Locatelli" was paid twelve double golden guilder by the elector's director of music.
Just one year later, in May 1728, Locatelli visited the Prussian court in Berlin. He moved from Dresden to Potsdam with Augustus II and the elector's escort of about 500 people, including Johann Georg Pisendel, Johann Joachim Quantz and Silvius Leopold Weiss. A notice about Locatelli's performance before Frederick William I anecdotically describes the musician's self-assurance and his vanity in wearing gorgeous, diamond-studded clothes. The aristocratic listeners may have preferred Johann Gottlieb Graun's violin playing to Locatelli's.
According to an entry in a rich autograph collector's records, Locatelli was living in Frankfurt on 20 October 1728. The entry includes a miniature version of the Andante from Sonata III, Op. 2, for piano.
Locatelli's last known stop was in Kassel, where he received the very high payment of 80 reichsthaler after his visit to Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, on 7 December 1728. The organist Jacob Wilhelm Lustig stated in 1728 that Locatelli had astonished his listeners with hugely difficult passages while scraping at his violin.
In 1729 Locatelli moved to Amsterdam, where he stayed until his death. He did not compose so much as previously, but gave violin lessons to amateurs and edited his opp. 1–9 and the works of other musicians, such as Giovanni Battista Martini's Op. 2. His sparsely documented public and semi-public performances were open only to music lovers, not to professional musicians. An Englishman who heard him in 1741 wrote "he is so afraid of People Learning from him, that He won't admit a Professed Musician into his Concert". Some rich music lovers, who would play as amateurs with Locatelli, helped him to become affluent. In aristocratic circles he was a recognized, admired and supported virtuoso and composer. In 1741 he set up a business selling violin strings from his home. Including taxes he earned about 1500 guilders in 1742 alone, the highest income of any musician from Amsterdam. It is unknown why from 1744, when he released Op. 8, to 1762, when he released Op. 9, there were no reports of him from lexicographers, listeners or national and international music journalists.
Locatelli died on 30 March 1764 in his house on the Prinsengracht.
Violin Concerto in C minor op. 3
Concerto in f minor, Op. 1, no. 8
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