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Christian Joseph Lidarti

born: 23 February 1730
died: 1795
country: Austria

In 1769 the young Mozart left Salzburg and arrived for the first time in Italy. Less than twenty years earlier he had been preceded by another Austrian composer, Christian Joseph (or Cristiano Giuseppe) Lidarti, who was never to leave the country of his ancestors after his arrival in 1751.

Lidarti was born in Vienna on 23 February 1730, but his father, Giovanni Damiano Lidarti, was Italian; the young Lidarti had his first composition classes with his cousin—whom he called uncle—Giuseppe Bonno, Kapellmeister of the Imperial Court, who had studied for ten years in Naples with Leonardo Leo. As with many other musicians of the time who travelled around Europe, Lidarti had a precise aim for his journey in Italy: to meet the famous Niccolò Jommelli and to obtain composition classes from him. He succeeded in this only six years later, in Rome, but he was probably disappointed after such a long wait and he completely abandoned any aspiration to compose for the opera. From that point he wrote only instrumental music. During the same year, 1757, he was appointed as a musician at the church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri in Pisa, where he worked until at least 1784. He died in Pisa in 1795, leaving six children borne to the noble Pisan woman Anna Vettoria Scorzi.

Most of the information we have about Lidarti comes from an autobiography titled Aneddoti musicali, which in 1774 he sent—together with his portrait—to Father Giovanni Battista Martini, an Italian collector and important music historian. The English traveller and musicologist Charles Burney met Lidarti in 1770 during his time in Italy, a sign of the great esteem in which the composer was held. If Lidarti was unable to compete with the music currently being written for the opera, he became famous as a virtuoso on a range of instruments that were prevalent at the time: the violin, cello, keyboards, harp (which he learned from Cistercian monks in Austria when he was young), and finally the traverso, or baroque flute (which he taught himself, becoming a sought-after teacher). As a testament to this incredible and versatile instrumental skill, 200 instrumental works have survived, mostly in the British Library in London and the Fondo Antonio Venturi in Montecatini Terme, Tuscany. These include compositions for chamber ensembles—duets, trios, quartets and quintets—and concertos for solo instrument and orchestra.

from notes by Dinko Fabris ©


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