Saturday, May 23, 2009

Giovanni Viotti

Giovanni Battista Viotti was an Italian violinist, composer, and conductor born on May 23 (or May 12) 1755 (one year before Mozart was born.) He took lessons from Gaetano Pugnani (pupil of Giovanni Somis) and later even toured with him until he made his Paris debut in 1782, where he was an immediate success. Partly due to the French Revolution, he moved to London in 1792, where he enjoyed acclaim, playing for royalty and directing various musical enterprises. He was forced to leave England after France and England became engaged in hostilities. He then retired from playing to run some kind of wine business which ultimately did not do very well. From 1819 to 1821, he ran the Royal Academy of Music in Paris. His pupils included Rode and Baillot who were instrumental in establishing a French school of violin playing, whatever that means. Viotti wrote 29 violin concertos, now seldom played. He also wrote chamber music and a few songs. A famous (and beautiful) Stradivarius violin from 1709 is named after him. Viotti died in March of 1824 (about two years before Beethoven.)

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