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Giuseppe Torelli

Giuseppe Torelli

(1658 - 1709)

Italian composers of the mature Baroque period in music contributed the most to the concerto. The term had been in use since the sixteenth century, used for both vocal and instrumental pieces. The composer who contributed most to its early development was Giuseppe Torelli (April 22, 1658 - February 8, 1709). The church of San Petronio in Bologna where Torelli and other Bolognese musicians worked was a shaping influence upon the beginning development of the Baroque concerto. Many churches of this time period, as well as San Petronio kept a small orchestra of accomplished professional musicians, but for special occasions additional less expert outsiders were added to the smaller group to form a larger orchestra. The fact that Torelli had at his disposal the small group of expert solo players as well as the larger group made a natural surrounding for the composing of musical works that utilized the soloist to good advantage for solos and extra musicians to form the ripieno or background musicians.

Not a whole lot of information about Torelli has survived, but what we do know is that he most likely studied very young with Giuliano Massaronti in Verona. We know that he moved to Bologna sometime between 1681 and 1684, where he became a member of the Accademia filarmonica on June 27, 1684. It is likely he was elevated to the rank of Composer in 1692. It is also believed that he studied composition with G.A. Perti.

Torelli played viola in the regular cappella musicale at San Petronio from September 28, 1686 to January 1696. Some evidence suggests he may have gone to Ansbach and Berlin before becoming maestro di concerto to the Margrave of Brandenburg at Ansbach in 1698. In December of that year he was in Vienna, where he wrote an oratorio. By 1701 he had become associated with the newly reborn cappella at San Petronio. There he remained until his death in 1709. Torelli and Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) are the most important concerto composers of the early Baroque.

Torelli's works consist of mostly chamber and orchestral written for strings. His published works includes concerti and sonatas; his unpublished works are sinfonias, concertos and sonatas for trumpet or trumpets and strings. ~Mike Parmer (8/2005)

Recommended Recordings


Chandos CHAN0716
7 Concerti Grossi from Op. 8, #2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 & 11; Sinfonias for Trumpet/Chandos CHAN0716
Catherine Weiss (violin), Crispian Steele-Perkins (trumpet), Simon Standage/Collegium Musicum 90
3 Trumpet Concertos, 12 Sinfonias & 7 Trumpet Sonatas/Brilliant Classics 92401
Thomas Hammes (trumpet), Peter Leiner (trumpet), Nicol Matt/European Chamber Soloists
6 Concerti Grossi from Op. 8, #2, 3, 6, 8, 9 & 12/Philips 432118-2
Mariana Sirbu & Antonio Perez (violins)/I Musici