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Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni

born: 14 June 1671
died: 17 January 1751
country: Italy

Born in Venice in 1671, Tomaso Albinoni was the eldest son of a wealthy paper merchant who owned several shops in Venice. It is not known who Albinoni’s teachers were—though Legrenzi’s name has been suggested—but we do know that Tomaso took both violin and singing lessons. With his inherited family wealth, Albinoni found no need to take a musical job in the church or at court: his independent means enabled him to remain a dilettante. His intentions were, however, quite clearly to devote himself to music, for on his father’s death he effectively relinquished managerial control of the family business, though he continued for a short while to receive a share of the profits. In 1721 the business was taken over, after a lawsuit, by an old creditor of his father, and Albinoni’s private income all but ceased.

Albinoni first came to prominence as a composer in 1694 in the opera house, where his melodic style proved highly popular. Over the next forty-seven years he wrote more than fifty operas, along with some thirty cantatas, around sixty sonatas and at least sixty concertos. Although some of Albinoni’s music has been criticized as lacking in harmonic finesse, he was undoubtedly a remarkable melodist and, perhaps due to his rather isolated lifestyle, a highly individual composer.

from notes by Robert King © 1990

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