Domenico Cimarosa, classical music composer

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Domenico Cimarosa


The son of a bricklayer, Domenico Cimarosa was born in Aversa on December 17th, 1749. His parents, though poor, wished their son to receive a good education and enrolled him in a free school run by one of the monasteries in Naples. The monastery's organist, Padre Polcano, was greatly impressed by the young boy's talents and took it upon himself to give him his first lessons in music. In time, Cimarosa gained a scholarship to study at the Conservatorio Santa Maria de Loreto where his teachers included Niccolò Piccinni, Gluck's rival, and Antonio Sacchini.

Cimarosa's career as a composer of opera took flight in the year 1772 when his first two opera buffas, Le stravaganze del conte and Le pazzie di Stelladaura e di Zoroastro, both met with success. The young composer's fame quickly spread throughout Italy. The following years he predominantly spent in Naples and Rome, composing more operas for those cities' theaters. His fame steadily grew and eventually expanded beyond Italy with the productions of his works in Paris, Vienna, Dresden and London.

In 1787, Cimarosa was invited to St. Petersburg by Empress Catherine II. He spent four years at the Imperial Court, composing at an extremely prolific rate. When he left Russia in 1792, he went to Vienna at the invitation of Emperor Leopold II. His stay in the Austrian capital was far shorter, but there he produced his most significant masterpiece—Il matrimonio segreto—one of the finest examples of opera buffa and lauded by Verdi as the model for all opera buffa.

The following year, Cimarosa returned to Naples where he entered the service of King Ferdinand IV. When the city fell to the advancing armies of Napoleon and the king fled to Palermo, Cimarosa sided with the city's revolutionaries. However, after only a seven-year rule, the Bonapartists were expelled and King Ferdinand returned to Naples. Because of his support of the French army, Cimarosa was immediately thrown in prison, presumably to be put to death. Influential and loyal admirers pleaded for the composer's release, and his sentenced was eventually commuted to banishment. Cimarosa intended to leave Naples and return to St. Petersburg. However, ill health took its toll. On January 11th, 1801, Cimarosa died in Venice. Rumors arose that he had been poisoned by enemies, but a formal investigation found these claims to be unfounded.

Composer Title Date Action
Domenico Cimarosa Concerto for Two Flutes in G Major 03/23/2009 Play Add to playlist