Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni (8 June 1671 – 17 January 1751) was an Italian Baroque composer. While famous in his day as an opera composer, he is mainly remembered today for his instrumental music, such as the concerti.
Born in Venice, Republic of Venice, to Antonio Albinoni, a wealthy paper merchant in Venice, he studied violin and singing. Relatively little is known about his life, especially considering his contemporary stature as a composer, and the comparatively well-documented period in which he lived. In 1694 he dedicated his Opus 1 to the fellow-Venetian, Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (grand-nephew of Pope Alexander VIII); Ottoboni was an important patron in Rome of other composers, such as Arcangelo Corelli. His first opera, Zenobia, regina de Palmireni, was produced in Venice in 1694. Albinoni was possibly employed in 1700 as a violinist to Charles IV, Duke of Mantua, to whom he dedicated his Opus 2 collection of instrumental pieces. In 1701 he wrote his hugely popular suites Opus 3, and dedicated that collection to Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
In 1705, he was married; Antonino Biffi, the maestro di cappella of San Marco was a witness, and evidently was a friend of Albinoni. Albinoni seems to have no other connection with that primary musical establishment in Venice, however, and achieved his early fame as an opera composer at many cities in Italy, including Venice, Genoa, Bologna, Mantua, Udine, Piacenza, and Naples. During this time he was also composing instrumental music in abundance: prior to 1705, he mostly wrote trio sonatas and violin concertos, but between then and 1719 he wrote solo sonatas and concertos for oboe.
Unlike most composers of his time, he appears never to have sought a post at either a church or noble court, but then he was a man of independent means and had the option to compose music independently. In 1722, Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria, to whom Albinoni had dedicated a set of twelve concertos, invited him to direct two of his operas in Munich.
Around 1740, a collection of Albinoni’s violin sonatas was published in France as a posthumous work, and scholars long presumed that meant that Albinoni had died by that time. However, it appears he lived on in Venice in obscurity; a record from the parish of San Barnaba indicates Tomaso Albinoni died in Venice in 1751, of diabetes mellitus.
Most of his operatic works have been lost, largely because they were not published during his lifetime. However, nine collections of instrumental works were published. These were met with considerable success and consequent reprints. He is therefore known more as a composer of instrumental music (99 sonatas, 59 concerti and 9 sinfonia) today. In his lifetime these works were compared favourably with those of Corelli and Vivaldi. His nine collections published in Italy, Amsterdam and London were either dedicated to or sponsored by an impressive list of southern European nobility. Albinoni wrote at least fifty operas of which twenty-eight were produced in Venice between 1723 and 1740. Albinoni himself claimed 81 operas (naming his second-to-last opera, in the libretto, as his 80th). In spite of his enormous operatic output, today he is most noted for his instrumental music, especially his oboe concerti. He is the first Italian known to employ the oboe as a solo instrument in concerti (c. 1715, in his 12 concerti a cinque, op. 7) and publish such works, although earlier concerti featuring solo oboe were probably written by German composers such as Telemann or Händel. In Italy, Alessandro Marcello published his well known oboe concerto in D minor a little later, in 1717. Albinoni also employed the instrument often in his chamber works.
His instrumental music attracted great attention from Johann Sebastian Bach, who wrote at least two fugues on Albinoni’s themes (Fugue in A major on a theme by Tomaso Albinoni, BWV 950, Fugue in B minor on a theme by Tomaso Albinoni, BWV 951) and frequently used his basses for harmony exercises for his pupils. Part of Albinoni’s work was lost in World War II with the destruction of the Dresden State Library. As a result, little is known of his life and music after the mid-1720s.
The famous “Adagio in G minor” for violin, strings and organ, the subject of many modern recordings, is by some thought to be a musical hoax composed by Remo Giazotto. However, a discovery by musicologist Muska Mangano, Giazotto’s last assistant before his death, brought up new findings. Among Giazotto’s papers, she discovered a modern but independent manuscript transcription of the figured bass portion and six fragmentary bars of the first violin, “bearing in the top right-hand corner a stamp stating unequivocally the Dresden provenance of the original from which it was taken”. This provides support for Giazotto’s account that he did base his composition on a source. (by wikipedia)
The oboe on these recordings was played by Heinz Holliger:
Heinz Robert Holliger (born 21 May 1939) is a Swiss oboist, composer and conductor.
Holliger was born in Langenthal, Switzerland, and began his musical education at the conservatories of Bern and Basel. He studied composition with Sándor Veress and Pierre Boulez. Holliger took first prize for oboe in the International Competition in Geneva in 1959.
He has become one of the world’s most celebrated oboists, and many composers (including Olivier Messiaen, Luciano Berio, Elliott Carter, Frank Martin, Hans Werner Henze, Witold Lutosławski, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Isang Yun) have written works for him. He began teaching at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, Germany in 1966.
In 1972 Holliger, Maurice Bourgue (fr) (oboe), Klaus Thunemann (bassoon), and Christiane Jaccottet (continuo) et al. recorded the Six Trio Sonatas for Oboe and Bassoon by Jan Dismas Zelenka. This recording is credited for the “Zelenka Renaissance”.
Holliger has also composed many works in a variety of media. Many of his works have been recorded for the ECM label.
Invited by Walter Fink, he was the 17th composer featured in the annual Komponistenporträt of the Rheingau Musik Festival in 2007 in chamber music and a symphonic concert that he conducted himself, including works of Claude Debussy and Robert Schumann along with his Lieder after Georg Trakl and Gesänge der Frühe on words of Schumann and Friedrich Hölderlin.
On the occasion of Paul Sacher’s 70th birthday, Holliger was one of twelve composer-friends of his who were asked by Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich to write compositions for cello solo using his name spelt out in German names for musical notes on the theme (eS, A, C, H, E, Re); Holliger contributed a Chaconne for Violoncello Solo. The compositions were partially presented in Zurich on 2 May 1976. The whole “eSACHERe” project was (for the first time in complete performance) performed by Czech cellist František Brikcius in May 2011 in Prague. (by wikipedia).
And he was accomponied ny the legendary I Musici ensemble:
I Musici (pronounced [iˈmuːzitʃi]), also known as I Musici di Roma, is an Italian chamber orchestra from Rome formed in 1951. They are well known for their interpretations of Baroque and other works, particularly Antonio Vivaldi and Tomaso Albinoni.
Among their engagements, the original Chamber Orchestra completed acclaimed tours of Southern Africa 1956, and again in 1967, with a few replacement performers
In the 1970s, I Musici recorded the first classical music video and, later, the group was the first to record a compact disc for the Philips label.
One of their founding members and first violin, Felix Ayo, is still active as of 2012. (by wikipedia)
This is a reference album of the baroque oboe, with additional works by Alessandro Marcello and Antonio Vivaldi: What a unique sound … Another chance to discover the magic of this music !
I Musici during the Sixties
Maurice Bourgue (oboe)
Maria Teresa Garatti (harpsichord)
Heinz Holliger (oboe)
Tomaso Albinoni: Concerto a 5 in D minor, Op.9, No.2 for Oboe, Strings, and Continuo:
01. Allegro e non presto 4.08
02. Adagio 5.22
03. Allegro 2.52
Tomaso Albinoni: Concerto a 5 in F, Op.9, No.3 for 2 Oboes, Strings, and Continuo:
04. Allegro 4.55
05. Adagio 3.09
06. Allegro 3.50
Alessandro Marcello: Oboe Concerto in D minor:
07. Andante e spiccato 3.32
08. Adagio 4.23
09. Presto 3.45
Tomaso Albinoni: Concerto a 5 in G minor, Op.9, No.8 for Oboe, Strings, and Continuo:
10. Allegro 4.24
11. Adagio 2.39
12. Allegro 4.03
Tomaso Albinoni: Concerto a 5 in C, Op.9, No.9 for 2 Oboes, Strings, and Continuo:
13. Allegro 4.08
14. Adagio 3.18
15. Allegro 3.42
Antonio Vivaldi: Oboe Concerto in C, R.446:
16. Allegro 3.15
17. Adagio 3.36
18. Allegro 2.01