Giovanni (Battista) Bononcini’s 350th Birthday

Giovanni Bononcini (born 18 July 1670 in Modena - died 9 July 1744 in Vienna) was from a musical family and probably received his first lessons from his father, who died early. Beginning in 1678, he took cello lessons from Giovanni Paolo Colonna. After several stations in Italy, Vienna became his home in 1697, where Bononcini was a member of Emperor Leopold I’s Hofkapelle and was also successful as a composer. He took longer study trips to Venice, Rome, and especially London. For a while he was a compositional rival of George Frideric Handel and worked in the Marlborough family household. After a plagiarism scandal, Bononcini went to Paris in 1733 and spent 1735 in Lisbon. In 1737 he turned once more to the Viennese court and composed a Te Deum for Empress Maria Theresia that is dated 1741, whereupon he received a lifelong pension.

Bononcini's oeuvre extends to all musical genres. At the beginning of his career in Bologna, he published anthologies with trio sonatas and composed oratorios, which were performed in Modena. In 1691, he dedicated his Duetti da camera op. 8 to Leopold I (RISM ID no. 990006327).

The ca. 320 cantatas are the most coherent and in many ways most interesting part of Bononcini's output. The state of research is complicated by the wide distribution of the sources and by the sometimes contradictory attributions to his brother Antonio and other contemporary composers.

Bononcini’s collaboration with the librettist Silvio Stampiglia was a very productive time for Vienese opera of the early 18th century. Bononcini wrote around 30 operas, of which ca. 10 arose from working with Stampiglia. The most famous opera is Il trionfo di Camilla, regina de' Volsci, which premiered on 27 December 1696 with the famous Vittoria Tarquini in the title role and the famous castrato Domenico Cecchi "il Cortona" at the Teatro San Bartolomeo in Naples. The RISM catalog has over 280 sources for this opera alone.

In total, the RISM catalog has 2,400 entries for Giovanni Bononcini, of which he is the composer in ca. 1,900.


Image: The cantata Io son lungi alla mia vita, I-Nc Canate 69@21; RISM ID no. 850021395



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