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Owen Jander

revised by Giancarlo Rostirolla

[‘Il Bolsena’]

(b Bolsena, Nov 30, 1663; d Rome, July 22, 1742). Italian singer, writer and composer of Venetian origin. After early study at Montefiascone he was sent to Rome. Though his admission to the Cappella Giulia was recorded on 1 December 1682, he did not take up a post there until much later. In 1682 (or at the latest 16 September 1686) Adami became a member of the Congregazione dei Musici di S Cecilia, a fact which would confirm his professional activity in the sacred circles of Rome. He was a castrato of obviously unusual talent, but the remarkable success of his career also owed much to the fact that he enjoyed the protection of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni – the most influential Roman music patron of the day – in whose palace he served as musician-in-residence from 1686 to 1740. On 5 October 1690 he became a member of the Arcadia – the foremost musico-literary academy in Rome – where he was dubbed ‘Caricle Piseo’. Aided by Ottoboni’s patronage he was admitted as a soprano to the Cappella Sistina at the age of 26 (...


Michael Talbot

(b Venice, c1710; d Rome, Oct 14, 1746). Italian composer, harpsichordist and singer. Alberti's claim to historical recognition rests traditionally on his harpsichord sonatas, in which the arpeggiated bass that lent his name a posthumous notoriety is a prominent feature (see Alberti bass). In his lifetime, however, Alberti was equally famous as a singer and as a performer (sometimes as self-accompanist) on the harpsichord. His amateur status was perhaps unfairly seized upon by his detractors, for his reported early training in singing and counterpoint under A. Biffi and A. Lotti does not suggest an inadequate grounding; it may, however, account for the restricted quantity and scope of his output. Of his non-musical career little is recorded except that he served the Venetian ambassador, Pietro Andrea Cappello, as a page on a visit to Spain about 1736, provoking Farinelli's admiration of his singing, and subsequently joined the household of Marquis Giovanni Carlo Molinari in Rome. His harpsichord sonatas are generally believed to date from these last years. He is buried in S Marco, Rome....


Walter Emery

revised by Andreas Glöckner

(b Berna bei Seidenberg, Oberlausitz, bap. Jan 1, 1720; d Naumburg, bur. July 25, 1759). German organist and composer. He attended the Lauban Lyceum in 1733, and was a singer and assistant organist at St Maria Magdalena, Breslau, from about 1740 until the beginning of 1744. He then wished to return to Germany and devote himself to ‘higher studies’ at Leipzig, and as his parents were poor, he asked for a viaticum. He was granted four thalers on 23 January 1744, and on 19 March he matriculated at Leipzig University as a theological student. He soon began to assist Bach, chiefly as a bass, and did so regularly from Michaelmas 1745. In taking on a university student Bach exceeded his authority, but he was always short of basses, for the boys of the Thomasschule often left before their voices had settled. On 16 April 1746 W.F. Bach recommended Altnickol as his successor at Dresden, saying that he had studied the keyboard and composition with his father; but he was disregarded. On ...


Mary Cyr

[not Jean-Baptiste]

(b Lunel, 1710; d Paris, Dec 1, 1772). French haute-contre singer, music teacher, cellist and composer. His début in 1733 at the Paris Opéra, according to La Borde, was in the monologue of Pélée, ‘Ciel! en voyant ce temple redoutable’ from Act 3 of Collasse's Thétis et Pélée (1689). He soon joined the Italian troupe, performing in divertissements between the acts of operas. After three years he returned to the Opéra and took several minor roles between 1737 and 1745 in Rameau's works: Un Athlète in Castor et Pollux (1737), Un Songe in Dardanus (1739), Lycurgue in Fêtes d'Hébé (1739), and Tacmas (replacing the well-known haute-contre Tribou) in the third entrée of Les Indes galantes (1743 revival). In 1743 he sang the title role in the première of Boismortier's ballet-comique, Don Quichotte chez la Duchesse, with the famous soprano Marie Fel as Altisidore. Two years later he retired from the opera to devote himself to teaching and playing the cello. He became first cellist of the orchestra at the Comédie-Italienne in ...


Alexander Lingas

[Bereketēs, Petros; Byzantios, ho Melōdos, Glykys, Tzelepēs, Kouspazoglou]

(b Constantinople, ?1665; d ?1725). Romaic (Greek) composer and cantor. Though undoubtedly influenced by the works of Panagiotes, Germanos and Balasios, he appears never to have been directly associated with the patriarchal court that nurtured his older colleagues. His own substantial contributions to their continuing renewal of Byzantine chanting were made instead from the Constantinopolitan parish church of St Constantine (in the district of Hypsomatheia), where Bereketes held successively the offices of reader, domestikos, and prōtopsaltēs.

Among the traditional repertories, Bereketes virtually ignored the stichērarion and heirmologion recently ‘beautified’ by Panagiotes, Germanos, and Balasios in order to focus his compositional skills on the more structurally malleable chants of the Papadikē. He also brought the newer paraliturgical genre of the kalophonic heirmos to its highest point with the composition of 45 heirmoi for use in monastic refectories or during the distribution of antidoron (blessed bread) at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy. Cultivating what Chatzigiakoumis and Stathis have described as a comparatively popular style of liturgical music, he occasionally composed works incorporating elements of the Arabo-Persian tradition of Ottoman secular music. Among his chants for Orthros are settings of the first and second ...


Sven Hansell

revised by Daniel E. Freeman

(b Venice, c?1698; d after 1739). Italian composer and singer, active mainly in Bohemia and Silesia. Other than his Venetian origins, which are confirmed in many documents, almost all the information usually given about his life before his arrival in Bohemia is unverifiable, including reports of his birth in 1698 as the son of a tailor in the Rialto district of Venice, study with Giovanni Porta and productions of his operas in Chioggia, Ferrara, Venice and Baden-Baden in the years 1721–4. The first known records of him date from 1720, when he sang in productions of Lucio Papirio and Astarto in Udine and La ninfa bizzarra in Rovigo. He may be the singer listed as Antonio Biondi in librettos for productions of Il pastor reggio in Chioggia in 1721 and L’Arminio in Mantua in 1722.

In May 1724 Bioni was contracted by Antonio Denzio in Venice to serve as composer for the Peruzzi company that was to perform in Prague, but before arriving in Bohemia the Peruzzi company was engaged to provide operatic entertainments during summer ...


David Tunley


(b Fontaine-L'Evêque, Oct 24, 1676; d Paris, Jan 1750 or1751). French composer and singer. His name first appears as a composer in 1701 when two volumes of Pièces en trio were published in Paris by Ballard. He is next heard of as maître de musique at Strasbourg Cathedral where he worked from 1703 to 1706. According to the title-page of his ballet Les plaisirs de la paix (1715) he at some time held a similar position at Toul. From 1708 to 1711 he sang at the Paris Opéra; La Borde spoke highly of his countertenor voice. Bourgeois' last major appointment was as surintendant de la musique to the Duke of Bourbon in whose service he worked from 1715 to 1721, after which he seems to have led a professional life that took him from one provincial city to another, including Lille, Lyons, Poitiers and Dijon, and also to Belgium and the Netherlands. His last years are obscure and he died in poverty....


Robert Fajon

(b Lyons, c1683; d Paris, March 2, 1760). French composer, teacher and opera singer. The main source of information about him is the Parfaict brothers’ Dictionnaire des théâtres, which states that Bouvard entered the Opéra at a very young age to sing soprano parts, with a ‘voice of such a range that its like had never been heard’. After his voice broke, when he was about 16, he spent a couple of years in Rome. He was back in Paris by February 1701, where his first (Italian) air appeared in a collection published by Ballard. In 1702, thanks to the patronage of M. de Francine, the Académie Royale de Musique performed his first opera, Médus, with great success, but in 1706 Cassandre, composed in collaboration with Bertin de La Doué, was a failure. Throughout the years 1701–11 Bouvard regularly published airs in Ballard’s collections, initially airs sérieux...


Roger Fiske

revised by Linda Troost

(b c1709; d Jamaica, c1738). English violinist, composer and singer. He began his career as a dancing-master, but by 1729 he had succeeded Richard Jones as leader of the Drury Lane orchestra, and he was soon playing concertos in the intervals and singing small roles. He also sang the male lead in several ballad operas, for instance Carey’s The Contrivances and Cibber’s Damon and Phillida (both 1729). Burney called him ‘a man of humour’; he wrote the first of the many amusing Medley Overtures that in the next 20 years were often played before pantomimes. The tune fragments, from Purcell and Handel as well as from popular songs such as Lilliburlero, occur in the bass as well as at the top and are sometimes cleverly combined. The slow middle section of Charke’s overture is surprisingly beautiful, with its 3/4 tune accompanied in 6/8.

Unfortunately his private life was a disaster. In ...


Margaret Laurie

(b 1674; d London, Jan 6, 1741). English composer and singer. He was trained as a chorister at St John’s College, Oxford. He may have been the John Church from Oxford who was apprenticed to the music publisher Henry Playford on 3 June 1689 but did not complete his apprenticeship, or the one from Alscott [?Ascot], Berkshire, who matriculated at St Edmund’s College, Oxford (‘aged about 14’), on 31 March 1690 and gained the BA in 1693, though the latter seems slightly too young. By 1695 he was singing tenor at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in London. He was appointed a Gentleman Extraordinary of the Chapel Royal on 31 January 1697 and admitted to a full place on 1 August; in the same year he also became a lay vicar at Westminster Abbey, where he was Master of the Choristers from 1704 until Michaelmas 1740. He was principal copyist for both the Chapel Royal and Westminster Abbey until about ...


(bc1680; d Paris, July 17, 1734). French singer and composer. Fétis, Walther and Gerber all gave his date of death incorrectly as 5 May 1722. From 1702 to 1718 he played many of the leading haute-contre roles at the Académie Royale, including Idamante in Campra's Idomenée (1712), Jason in J.-F. Salomon's Medée (1713) and Léandre in Mouret's Les fêtes de Thalie (1714). In May 1703 he entered into a contract in which he promised, in return for a large sum of money, that he would continue to execute all the operatic roles required of him and would not leave without permission. From at least 1716 until his resignation in spring 1733 he held the post of ordinaire de la musique du Roi, frequently taking part in concerts at Versailles. According to Fétis, he was in the service of the Prince de Conti, but that is unsubstantiated in other sources. He gave singing and harpsichord lessons to the daughters of the Duke of Orléans at the abbey of Chelles, and according to Benoit, the self-styled ‘abbess’, Louise-Adelaïde, was rumoured to have become his mistress. His principal compositions were three volumes of ...


Brian Boydell

(b ?Dublin, c1710; d Dublin, 1772). Irish singer, composer and organist. Reputedly a fine bass singer, his name was frequently mentioned as a special attraction at Dublin concerts during the 1740s, though he was not, apparently, a soloist at the first performance of Messiah. He was a member of the choir of St Patrick's Cathedral, becoming a half vicar-choral in ...


(b Dublin, c1726; d ?Dublin, after 1755). Harpsichord player, singer and composer. She was the daughter of Mr Davis (or Davies; fl 1735–48), a harpsichord player, and Mrs Davis (fl 1730–48), a singer. Mrs Davis promoted her daughter as a child prodigy, who first appeared on ...


Jane L. Berdes

[Sanza, Samaritana ]

( fl c 1725– c1750; d after 1774). Italian composer, singer and violinist . She was a foundling admitted in infancy to the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice. From early childhood she received a thorough musical education in the coro (music school), and was a contralto soloist, violinist and composer during the tenures of Giovanni Porta, Nicola Porpora, and Andrea Bernasconi. She studied the violin under the maestra Anna Maria della Pietà, succeeded her as director of the orchestra in about 1740, and performed at least six of the violin concertos Vivaldi composed for Anna Maria. Her setting of the Vespers Psalm cxiii Laudate pueri à 4 in D, survives ( I-Vc correr esposti, 65 no.192, 13, 82).

D. Arnold and E. Arnold: The Oratorio in Venice (London, 1986), 98, 108 G. Rostirolla: ‘L’organizzazione musicale nell’Ospedale veneziano della Pietà al tempo di Vivaldi’, NRMI , 13 (1979), 168–95, esp. 193...


Neal Zaslaw

(b Lyons, late 17th century; d Paris, c1752). French singer, theorist, composer and actor. He was the head of a theatrical troupe that played in Lille between 1715 and 1722, at Brussels in 1716 and in Antwerp in 1717. The title-page of his Nouveau système calls him ‘formerly of the Royal Academies of Music of Lyons, Rouen, Marseilles, Lille, Brussels and Antwerp, and maître de musique of the cathedrals of St Omer and Tournai’. In 1730 he was married in Paris to Marie-Marguerite Lecouvreur, younger sister of the playwright. The dedication of Denis’ Nouvelle méthode to the ladies of St Cyr suggests that he may have been involved in the musico-theatrical training offered at that school. In the 1740s and early 1750s, and perhaps earlier, Denis ran a music school in Paris; the school continued after his death under his son-in-law Jouve.

Denis’ treatises enjoyed considerable longevity, one of them remaining in publishers’ catalogues until ...


John Walter Hill

[‘il Tedeschino’]

(b Florence, c1703; d Florence, April 13, 1772). Italian castrato soprano, maestro di cappella and composer. He was an opera singer in Italy between 1721 and 1726, after which he sang for four seasons in Breslau [now Wrocław], where he composed and served as impresario during the 1727–8 season. Following the 1729–30 season, when he was in Prague at the Sporck theatre, he was one of a group of singers recruited for the imperial theatre in Moscow. He remained in Russia until 1734, when he returned to Florence by way of Dresden and Vienna. On 6 October 1737 he joined the Servants of Mary in Florence, becoming a novice on 13 April 1738. From 31 January 1739 he was maestro di cappella for that order in SS Annunziata, their church. Surviving works by Dreyer (in I-Fc and FA ) include introits a 4, masses, offertories, a Miserere...


Georg Feder

revised by Steven Zohn

[Dügren, Johann Jeremias]

(d Danzig [now Gdańsk], Jan 1756). ?French singer, keyboard player and composer, active in Germany. He was probably related to French immigrants whose names appear frequently in the city records of Danzig. A pupil of Telemann, Du Grain is first mentioned at Hamburg in 1730 as a soloist in cantatas by Telemann performed to commemorate the Augsburg Confession. From 1732 he lived in Elbing (now Elbląg, Poland) where he was a singer, organist and harpsichord player. In 1737 he was enjoined (‘injungieret’), presumably as an assistant, to the organist of the Marienkirche Daniel Dibbe; his name appears in the church accounts from 1737 to 1739. Among his compositions for Elbing were a St Matthew Passion (1737), performed annually until the 19th century, and the lost cantata Hermann von Balcke, written to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the city; the latter contained recitatives and some arias by Du Grain and arias from operas by Handel who helped to compile the work, but who left Elbing before the performance....


James R. Anthony

(b 1718; d Paris, after 1775). French composer, dancer, ?singer and harpsichordist. In his contemporary manuscript, Notices sur les oeuvres de théâtre, the Marquis d'Argenson commented that Duval, ‘une jeune fille de l'Opéra’, was 18 in 1736 when she composed Les Génies, ou Les caractères de l'Amour. Fétis gave 1769 as her death date; Choron identified her as a ‘singer at the Paris Opéra’ and claimed that she was ‘still living in 1770’; the Anecdotes dramatiques for 1775 referred to her as a ‘former actress at the Opéra’ and included a ‘Mlle Duval’ as a supernumerary among the dancers.

Duval was best known as the composer of Les Génies, ou Les caractères de l'Amour (libretto by Fleury [de Lyon]), a ballet-héröique in a prologue and four entrées (printed in Paris about 1736). The dedication page reveals that the Prince of Carignan was her ‘Protecteur’. Les Génies...


Mary Cyr

(b Bordeaux, 1694; d Bicêtre, June 27, 1771). French singer and composer. He was the son of Henry Fel, an organist, and was well known for his skill in teaching singing. He sang at the Concert Spirituel and at the Paris Opéra as a basse-taille or taille until about ...


James L. Jackman

(b Bergamo, 1706; d Jersbeck [now Segeberg], nr Hamburg, April 21, 1776). Italian singer and composer. He was a castrato soprano and enjoyed considerable fame in Italy and Germany. His earliest known appearances were in Venice in 1726; between 1728 and 1730 he sang in the Italian opera at Breslau, where he contributed some arias to the pasticcio Merope. He had returned to Venice by 1732; three years later he became a member of the Accademia Filarmonica, Bologna, and by 1739 he was in the service of the Duke of Modena (late librettos describe him as the duke's maestro di cappella, but this claim has not been substantiated). In the summer of 1743 he joined the opera company of the impresario Pietro Mingotti in Linz, and appears never to have returned to Italy. In October the company moved to Hamburg where it gave regular seasons until 1747. Hamburg's German opera had closed in ...