At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Pietro Locatelli – musician

Violinist astonished his listeners with his ability


Pietro Antonio Locatelli was playing with an orchestra in Bergamo when he was only 14 years old
Pietro Antonio Locatelli was playing with an orchestra
in Bergamo when he was only 14 years old
Virtuoso violinist and Baroque composer Pietro Antonio Locatelli was born on this day in 1695 in Bergamo.

He showed an astonishing talent for playing the violin while he was still a young boy and began playing with the orchestra at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo when he was 14.

In 1711, when he was 16 years old, he left to go to Rome and although it is not known whether he studied with Arcangelo Corelli before the composer’s death in 1713, he will have absorbed a lot of his influence by studying with the other eminent musicians in the city.

In 1714 Locatelli wrote to his father, telling him that he was a member of the band of household musicians working for Prince Michelangelo I Caetani, a notable political figure and scholar. While in Rome he made his debut as a composer, producing his XII Concerto Grossi Op I in 1721.

The house on Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, where Locatelli died in 1764, is marked with a commemorative plaque
The house on Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, where Locatelli
died in 1764, is marked with a commemorative plaque
After 1725 his name crops up in Mantua, Venice, Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt and in every city he received rapturous acclaim for his violin performances. Many of his violin concertos were written at this time.

He was known to be in Kassel in Germany in December 1728 where he was paid generously after his performance by Charles I Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel. Afterwards the resident organist wrote that Locatelli had ‘astonished his listeners with hugely difficult violin passages.’

The musician moved to live in Amsterdam in 1729 where he gave music lessons, performed privately and had his own music published professionally.

Locatelli died in 1764 in his house on the Prinsengracht in the city.

He is perhaps best remembered for his L’Arte del violino, a group of 12 violin concerti for a solo violin.

The beautiful Piazza Vecchia lies at the heart of Bergamo's medieval city, the Città Alta
The beautiful Piazza Vecchia lies at the heart of Bergamo's
medieval city, the Città Alta
Travel tip:

Pietro Locatelli is remembered in his native city of Bergamo by an area named after him in Longuelo, a suburb of the city. Bergamo is in the Lombardy region of northern Italy and is a fascinating, historic city with two distinct centres. The Città Alta, upper town, is a beautiful walled city with buildings that date back to medieval times, while the elegant Città Bassa that grew up on the plain below has some buildings that date back to the 15th century as well as imposing architecture added in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The north portal of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, next to the Colleoni Chapel
The north portal of the Basilica of Santa Maria
Maggiore, next to the Colleoni Chapel
Travel tip:

The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, where Locatelli played as a teenager, is in Piazza Duomo in the Città Alta, The basilica, which dates back to the 12th century, is considered to be one of the finest buildings in Lombardy and has a beautiful interior, with a richly decorated cupola and fine Flemish and Florentine tapestries and works of art. At the back of the church is an elaborate white marble monument designed by Vincenzo Vela, marking the tomb of the 18th century opera composer Gaetano Donizetti, who was born and also died in Bergamo.

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