Niccola Jommelli - Encyclopedia




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NICCOLA JOMMELLI (1714-1774), Italian composer, was born at Aversa near Naples on the 10th of September 1714. He received his musical education at two of the famous music schools of that capital, being a pupil of the Conservatorio de' poveri di Gesu Cristo under Feo, and also of the Conservatorio della pieta dei Turchini under Prota, Mancini and Leo. His first opera, L'Errore amoroso, was successfully produced at Naples (under a pseudonym) when Jommelli was only twentythree. Three years afterwards he went to Rome to bring out two new operas, and thence to Bologna, where he profited by the advice of Padre Martini, the greatest contrapuntist of his age. In the meantime Jommelli's fame began to spread beyond the limits of his country, and in 1748 he went for the first time to Vienna, where one of his finest operas, Didone, was produced. Three years later he returned to Italy, and in 1753 he obtained the post of chapel-master to the duke of Wurttemberg at Stuttgart, which city he made his home for a number of years. In the same year he had ten commissions to write operas for princely courts. In Stuttgart he permitted no operas but his own to be produced, and he modified his style in accordance with German taste, so much that, when after an absence of fifteen years he returned to Naples, his countrymen hissed two of his operas off the stage. He retired in consequence to his native village, and only occasionally emerged from his solitude to take part in the musical life of the capital. His death took place on the 25th of August 1774, his last composition being the celebrated Miserere, a setting for two female voices of Saverio Mattei's Italian paraphrase of Psalm li. Jommelli is the most representative composer of the generation following Leo and Durante. He approaches very closely to Mozart in his style, and is important as one of the composers who, by welding together German and Italian characteristics, helped to form the musical language of the great composers of the classical period of Vienna.

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