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Giovanni Battista Viotti

Featured on:
Viotti/Mozart cdc 010

Real Audio:
Concerto per Violino
e Orchestra

La minore n. 22 (Agitato)
Viotti was an instinctive and brilliant virtuoso whose roots are to be found in the Piedmontese school of Corelli, Carlo Antonio Celoniati - a key figure from one of the most important musical families of Piedmont - and Gaetano Pugnani, the first chamber and chapel violin to the King of Sardinia and the conductor of the orchestra of the "Teatro Regio". When Viotti left his native city to take his first steps in the wider world he was twenty-five. He went to Geneva, Dresden and Berlin. In Russia he played for Catherine II and in Paris for Marie Antoinette. He was so important a figure that violinists of the calibre of Rode, Baillot and even Kreutzer are considered his disciples.
His career as a theatrical impressario began in Paris where he formed a partnership with Auti (the Queen's first hairdresser) and
established the "Theatre de Monsieur". He then moved to London where he was to direct the King's Theatre. In this capital city, where so many Italian musicians had previously found the support and the opportunity to write instrumental music which they would never have produced in their homelands, he met Haydn, became a friend of Lord Byron and of Walter Scott, and created the London Philarmonic Society with Clementi and Cramer as two of its members. When he returned to Paris he directed the "Teatro Italien" before going on to manage the Opera. Viotti finished his days in acute poverty, overwhelmed by the financial losses caused by a number of failed ventures, including one in the wine trade.

1755 Born on 12 May in Fontanetto Po, Vercelli. He receives his first musical instruction from his father, a blacksmith and amateur horn-player.
1766 As a guest of the Marchioness of Voghera, and supported by Bishop Ror, he continues with his musical studies at her palace in Turin.
1775 Becomes a member of the royal chapel.
1780 He goes on tour with Pugnani in Geneva, Dresden and Berlin where he publishes his "Concerto for Violin no. 3". He then goes to Poland and to Russia where he plays for Catherine II.
1782 On 17 March he performs at the "Concert Spirituel" and achieves great success.
1783 He engages in concert playing at court and in private circles.
1784 He works for Marie Antoinette from whom he receives very large fees.
1785 Establishes contacts with Cherubini.
1787 His two "Sinfonie Concertanti" are performed at the "Concert Spirituel".
1788 With Leonard Auti‚ he opens the Theatre de Monsieur (located in the Tuileries palace).
1792 In July he leaves Paris to escape the Terror and establishes himself in London.
1793 On 7 February he debuts in a series of concerts performed in Hanover Square.
1794 He is appointed manager of performances at the King's Theatre.
1795 He comes into contact with Haydn.
1797 He succeeds William Cramer as conductor at the King's Theatre.
1798 Suspected of Jacobin sympathies, he leaves England and finds refuge in Schonfeld (Hamburg) where he composes his six "Duos Concertants op. 5".
1801 He returns to London and becomes involved in the wine trade. Meets and shares the company of Lord Byron and Walter Scott.
1813 One of the founders of the London Philharmonic Society. He dedicates his "Concerto for Violin n. 27" to the Duke of Cambridge who is one of the patrons of the LPS.
1818 Returns to Paris. Supported by Louis XVIII he is appointed director of the Teatro Italien and the Op‚ra (1819). He is entrusted with organising the performance of "Don Giovanni" and "Cosi fan Tutte" by Mozart, "Il Matrimonio Segreto" by Cimarosa, and "Il Turco in Italia", "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" and "Otello" by Rossini.
1824 On 3 March he dies in London while living at the home of his loyal friends the Chinnery family.

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