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Torri, Pietrolocked

  • Gordana Lazarevich

(b Peschiera, Lake Garda, c1650; d Munich, July 6, 1737). Italian composer and organist. He is first mentioned as organist and maestro di cappella at the court of the Margrave of Bayreuth in 1684 (though Junker contended that he joined the court as organist in 1667 and succeeded J.P. Krieger as Kapellmeister in 1672). He left the court in 1684 and may have spent the next five years travelling in Italy. In 1689 he joined the court of Max Emanuel II, Elector of Bavaria, in Munich as organist, and the next year his first stage work, Gli oracoli di Pallade e di Nemesi, was performed to celebrate a visit by Emperor Leopold I. Thereafter he regularly prepared operas and serenatas for the court theatre.

When Max Emanuel became governor of the Spanish Netherlands in 1692 he brought members of his chapel with him to Brussels and named Torri maître de chapelle. In 1696 Torri was guest Kapellmeister at the court of Hanover, and the opera Briseide, given in Carnival that year, may be his composition. Agostino Steffani probably extended Torri this invitation, and he may also have recommended Torri to the Munich court in 1689. This tends to support the statement in some contemporary sources that Torri was one of his pupils; the existence of Torri's chamber duets further strengthens this claim, but there is no secure evidence.

With the death of Electoral Prince Joseph Ferdinand in 1689 the Bavarian claims to the Spanish throne lapsed and Max Emanuel returned to Munich. Seeing no chance of replacing the Kapellmeister and director of chamber music G.A. Bernabei, who had remained in the Bavarian capital, Torri asked Steffani to arrange a position for him at the court of Prussia. Torri seems to have returned to Munich, however, and in 1701 he was named director of chamber music with a salary of 1300 gulden.

Max Emanuel had joined the side of France in the War of the Spanish Succession and, with the defeat of his forces by the English at Höchstädt in 1704, he was forced to return to Brussels in exile together with a portion of his chapel, including Torri and E.F. dall'Abaco. No operas were produced in Brussels because of the war, although some of Torri's sacred works and the oratorio La vanità del mondo date from this time.

The English seized Brussels in 1706, and Max Emanuel again fled, spending the next nine years in the French-held regions of Saarbrücken, Mons and Namur, taking Torri and most of his chapel with him. P.A. Fiocco, who had been named lieutenant de la musique de la cour in 1696, was named maître de chapelle of the Brussels court in that year and served in that capacity until his death in 1714. Finally in 1715 Max Emanuel returned to Munich with his court, and Torri, with the title of Hofkapell-Director and a salary of 2000 gulden, entered his most creative period, producing nearly an opera a year until his death. Although the scale of his duties was somewhat reduced after 1726 by Max Emanuel’s successor, Karl Albrecht, Torri's salary was increased to 2500 gulden on the death of Bernabei in 1732, and he was finally named Hofkapellmeister.

The style of Torri's operas and instrumental music is founded in the late Venetian school, but shows the strong influence of Alessandro Scarlatti. Torri, however, lacked Scarlatti's skill of characterization and (according to Kaul) his coloratura arias lack dramatic accent, and his lyric arias are merely graceful; his ensembles, for the most part, fail to delineate the different emotions of the characters involved. During Torri's first stay in Brussels the operas of Lully were performed with great success under the direction of Fiocco, and their influence can be felt in Torri's late operas which use ballet, accompanied recitative, declamation, instrumentation and chorus in the French manner.

Torri's vocal chamber music, especially his chamber duets, achieved fame throughout Europe, and Hawkins mentioned ‘Heraclitus and Democritus, in which the affections of laughing and weeping are contrasted with singular art and ingenuity’. Like those of his presumed teacher, Steffani, Torri's duets are in an Italian idiom laced with French influences, and vary from homophonic two-part settings with continuo to multi-movement cantata forms and dramatic dialogues.



Le peripezze della Fortuna (6), ?Brussels, ?Jan 1695, D-Mbs [for wedding of Maximilian II Emanuel and Therese Kunigunde]

Untitled torneo, Munich, Schloss Leuchtenberg, 30 Jan 1702, Mbs (pts)

Enone (pastorale), Brussels, ? 12 Oct 1705, Mbs (frag.)

Le réciproque (divertissement), Valenciennes, 1714, Mbs

L'innocenza difesa dai Numi [Ismene] (dramma, 6), Munich Hof, Aug or Oct 1715, Mbs*

Astianatte (A. Salvi), Munich, Hof, 12 Oct 1716, Mbs, as Andromacca, Munich, Hof, wint. 1717, Mbs

La Merope (A. Zeno), Munich, Hof, 12 Oct 1719, Mbs, revived 24 Jan 1723

Eumene (dramma per musica, Zeno), Munich, Hof, 14 July 1720, Mbs (pts)

Lucio Vero (dramma per musica, Zeno), Munich, Hof, 12 Oct 1720, revived version, Munich, Hof, 3 Jan 1723; Mbs (pts)

L'amor d'amico vince ogni altro amore [Pirro e Demetrio] (3), Munich, Hof, 12 Oct 1721, Mbs

Adelaide (dramma per musica, Salvi), Munich, Hof, 18 Oct 1722, Mbs (pts) [for wedding of the Prince-Elector Karl Albrecht and Maria Amalia]

Griselda (dramma per musica, Zeno), Munich, Hof, 12 Oct 1723, Mbs

Amadis aus Griechenland (trans. of P. di Perozzi: Amadis in Grecia), Munich, Hof, Oct 1724, Mbs

Venceslao (dramma per musica, Zeno), Munich, Hof, 12 Oct 1725, Mbs, (score, pts)

L'Epaminonda (dramma per musica, D. Lalli), Munich, 1727, Mbs, (score, pts)

Nicomede (dramma per musica, Lalli), Munich, 1728, Mbs*, Mbs (pts)

Edippo (tragedia per musica, Lalli), Munich 1729, Mbs (pts)

L'Ippolito (tragedia per musica, Lalli), Munich, 1731, Mbs (pts)

Ciro (dramma per musica, L. de Villati), Munich, 1733, Mbs (pts)

Catone in Utica (tragedia per musica, P. Metastasio), Munich, 1736, Mbs*, Mbs (pts)


L'ambizione fulminata (? D.L. Orlandi), Munich, 1691 [cited in Junker]

Briseide (dramma per musica, 3, F. Palmieri), Hanover, carn. 1696, A-Wn, D-B, Mbs, GB-Lbl [previously attrib. Steffani; partly ed. in DTB, xxi, Jg. xxi/2 (1911), 3 arias ed. in SCMA, xi (1951)]


Il Giobbe Christiano (3), Munich, Hofkapelle, 10 Feb 1690

S Vinceslao (2), ? Brussels, between 1692 and 1701

S Landelino (1), ? Brussels, between 1692 and 1701

Abelle (3), ?Brussels, between 1692 and 1701, D-Mbs (Acts and 3 only)

La vanità del mondo, Brussels, 5 March 1706

Le martir des Maccabées (3), ? Brussels, between 1705 and 1714

S Genesio (3), ? between 1705 and 1714

Giacobbe [Rebecca] (3), ? between 1705 and 1714

Elia (2, Villati), Munich, Hofkapelle, Lent 1730

Abramo (2, Lalli), Munich, Hofkapelle, Lent 1731

Gionata (2), Munich, Hofkapelle, Lent ?1733


Fetonte (2), Munich, ?Oct/Nov 1689

Gli amori di Titone e d'Aurora, July 1691, A-Wn*

Il giorno festivo, Brussels, Oct 1695, formerly Munich, Toerring-Jettenbach archive

Le triomphe de la Paix, ? France, 1714

La reggia dell'armonia (after L. Orlandi: Niobe), Aug 1715, collab. A. Steffani

Introduzione a balli, Munich, 1715/16

Torneo, Munich, Schloss Leuchtenberg, composed 6 May 1718, perf. 1718, ? 29 Dec, score

Epitalamio, Munich, Schwarzen Saal der Residenz, 17 Feb 1719 [for wedding of Prince Ferdinand Maria and Maria Antonia Caroline of Pfalz-Neuburg], pts

Per l'anniversario della nascità de S.A.E. Massimiliano Emanuele, Munich, 11 July 1721

Gli dei festeggianti, Munich, 6 Aug 1721, pts

La Baviera, ? Munich, before 1726

Solo cantatas

Chi non crede, bc, D-B; Vuoi saper, bc, GB-Lbl; [8] Cantate, ob, flageolet, I-MOe; index in Kremer

Other works

Gli oracoli di Pallade e di Nemesi, Munich, 6 Feb 1690

I preggi della primavera (P. Orlandi), Munich, Schloss Leuchtenherg, 1691, A-Wn*

La publica felicità (componimento poetico per musica, P. Panati), Munich, 22 Oct 1722 [for wedding of the elector's heir and Duchess Maria Amalia], pts

Missa solemnis, D, 4vv, insts, ?1737

Missa pro defunctis, F, 5vv, 6 insts, 1726

Cr, San, Ag, C, 4vv, 4 insts; Apparuit gratia, B, S, 3 insts: all B-Bc

Chamber duets, mostly S, A, bc: B-Bc, D-B, Dl, F-Pc, GB-Cfm, Lbl, I-Bc, Fc, MOe, Vnm; index in Kremer

2 sonatas, 4 insts, B-Bc

8 sinfonias, lost, listed in 1753 catalogue of Munich Hofkapelle (see Schaal)


  • MGG1 (O. Kaul)
  • F.M. Rudhart: Geschichte der Oper am Hofe zu München (Freising, 1865)
  • H. Junker: Preface to Pietro Torri: Ausgewählte Werke, DTB, xxxi, Jg.xix–xx (1920)
  • M. Zenger: Geschichte der Münchner Oper, ed. T. Kroyer (Munich, 1923)
  • K. Kremer: P. Torri und seine kammermusikalische Werke (diss., U. of Munich, 1956)
  • R. Schaal: ‘Ein unbekanntes Inventar der Münchner Hofkapelle aus dem Jahre 1753’, Convivium musicorum: Festschrift Wolfgang Boetticher, ed. H. Hüschen and D.-R. Moser (Berlin, 1974), 309–24
  • R. Münster: Bayern und Europa um 1700, i: Die Musik am Hofe Max Emanuels, Kurfürst Max Emanuel (Munich, 1976) [commentary for exhibition at Schloss Schleissheim, 1976]
  • R. Münster: ‘Neu aufgefundene Opern, Oratorien und szenische Kantaten von Pietro Torri’, Musik in Bayern, 13 (1976), 49–58
R. Eitner: Biographisch-bibliographisches Quellen-Lexikon
Dresden, Sächsische Landesbibliothek - Staats- und Universitäts-Bibliothek, Musikabteilung
F.-J. Fétis: Biographie universelle des musiciens
Florence, Conservatorio Statale di Musica Luigi Cherubini
Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Musiksammlung
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Musikabteilung
London, British Library
Brussels, Conservatoire Royal, Bibliothèque, Koninklijk Conservatorium, Bibliotheek
Modena, Biblioteca Estense e Universitaria
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Paris, Conservatoire [in F-Pn]
Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, Dept of Manuscripts and Printed Books
J. Hawkins: A General History of the Science and Practice of Music (London, 1776)
Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart
Bologna, Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale
E.L. Gerber: Neues historisch-biographisches Lexikon der Tonkünstler