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Othmar Wessely

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Barry S. Brook and Richard Viano

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Peter Branscombe

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Michaela Freemanová and Geoffrey Chew

(fl 1760–1806). Czech composer. He was a teacher in Nemyčeves near Jičín (1760–92), then in Kopidlno. Most of his work output consists of church music, but he also wrote the Opera de rebellione boëmica rusticorum, which deals with the great peasant rebellion in East Bohemia of 1775. The work seems to have gained popularity in its time: it appears in several musical collections, and also as a spoken drama. The opera is composed in a late Baroque idiom, with Rococo features; to highlight the contrast between the lives of peasants and the nobility, it uses elements of folk and art music.

J. Němeček: Lidové zpěvohry a písně z doby roboty [Folk Singspiels and songs from the time of serfdom] (Prague, 1954)T. Volek: ‘První české zpěvohry’ [The first Czech Singspiels], Dějiny českého divadla [History of Czech theatre], vol.1: Od počátku do sklonku osmnáctého století [From the Beginning to the end of the 18th century], ed. ...

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Dale E. Monson

[Scirolo, Sciroletto, Scirolino]

(b Martina Franca, Taranto, Oct 28, 1732; d Martina Franca, Jan 11, 1813). Italian soprano castrato and composer. His early musical training from his father, Fortunato (a notary and church singer), was followed when he was 19 by study with Gregorio Sciroli in Naples (thus his nickname). He made his début in Sciroli's Il barone deluso (1752, Rome). Until 1757 he sang in Naples (in the royal chapel, 1752–6, though librettos continue to list him in the service of the court until 1758), Turin and Rome (where in 1754–5 he became primo uomo); during the next few years he travelled, visiting Venice, Madrid and Stuttgart. After returning briefly to Italy, he was appointed primo uomo in Stuttgart for the period 1762–9 (with one Italian interlude), appearing in Jommelli's Didone abbandonata (1763), Demofoonte (1764) and Fetonte (1768), among other works, and enjoying a salary comparable to Jommelli's own. His brother Raffaele, a violinist, was also engaged at court. The depletion of the duke's ...

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Álvaro Torrente

(b ?Salamanca, c1710; d Salamanca, May 28, 1793). Spanish composer, organist and harpist. From about 1735 (there is documentary evidence from 1738) he was a performer in the Capilla de S Jerónimo of the University of Salamanca. From January 1741 he occupied the chair of music at the university, following Antonio Yanguas’s retirement in 1740. He was appointed professor of music in 1754, a post he held until 3 July 1771.

MSS in E-SAu unless otherwise stated; other anonymous compositions in SAu may also be by Aragüés

E. Esperabé de Arteaga: Historia pragmática é interna de la universidad de Salamanca (Salamanca, 1914–17) C. Gómez Amat...

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Michael F. Robinson

revised by Piero Gargiulo

(b Naples, June 25, 1709; d ?Bologna, 1770). Italian composer. His first important engagement was on 29 October 1723, when he directed the music at a religious function in honour of S Gioseffo at S Maria la Nova, Naples. The Avvisi di Napoli for 2 November 1723, reporting the event, stated that the 14-year-old composer had performed ‘to the amazement and acclamation of everybody’. As a composer he made his début with the comic opera Lo matremmonejo pe’ mennetta (Naples, 1729), written at a time when dialect comedies were becoming increasingly popular in Naples. Araja, however, wrote only opere serie after this, and until his move to St Petersburg in 1735 he had the opportunity to work in the leading operatic centres of Italy: his Ciro riconosciuto and Cleomene were performed in Rome in 1731; his setting of Metastasio’s Semiramide riconosciuta, a work not previously attributed to Araja, was presented at Naples in the same year; his ...

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Robert Stevenson

(b Tudela, Navarre, bap. May 2, 1740; d Cuenca, Sept 24, 1820). Basque composer. After studying eight years with Luis Serra at the cathedral of Nuestra Señora del Pilar in Zaragoza, he competed for the music directorships of the cathedrals of Santo Domingo de la Calzada (1763), El Pilar (1765) and Zamora (1768), but was each time rejected, probably because he was not yet in holy orders. In 1765 he went to Madrid, where he made his name as a composer of tuneful, folkloric tonadillas. In 1769 he was appointed maestro de capilla at Cuenca Cathedral, where despite offers from better-paying cathedrals he remained until his death, composing much staid ecclesiastical music. He was ordained a priest in 1773 and retired from conducting in 1797. At Salamanca in 1791, Manuel Alonso Ortega rated him first among contemporary composers of expressive sacred music....

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Gordana Lazarevich

(b Malta, 1713; d Naples, Nov 6, 1784). Italian organist and composer. In 1725 he entered the Conservatorio dei Poveri di Gesù Cristo, Naples, where he remained for ten years; among his teachers were Gaetano Greco and Francesco Durante, and Pergolesi was a fellow student. Arena composed operas for Rome, Turin, Venice and Naples, and some of his music was included in Alessandro in Persia, a pasticcio performed in London on 31 October 1741. According to the libretto of Il vecchio deluso (1746), Arena served the Prince of Bisignano; he is also reported to have been organist of the church of S Filippo Neri, Naples. Arena's treatise Principij di musica con intavolature di cembalo e partimenti (autograph in I-Nc ) is described by Fétis as ‘un ouvrage élémentaire’.

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John Rosselli

[‘Il Comaschino’]

(b Como, c 1750–55; d after 1798). Italian castrato singer. Most of his career was spent in Russia. He sang the female leads in three successive seasons at the Teatro Argentina, Rome (1772–4), starting with Anfossi’s Alessandro nell’Indie, then appeared in Venice and Vienna, and reached St Petersburg in 1778. From 1780 to 1789 he was a leading singer at the court theatre, where he sang Orpheus in the Russian première of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (1782); he created Peter in Paisiello’s oratorio La passione di Gesù Cristo (1783). He retired in 1789 but stayed on until 1794 in Moscow; in 1795 he was at the court of the king of Poland. While based in Russia he made several trips abroad to recruit singers and buy materials for the imperial theatres. Mooser deduces (perhaps wrongly) that he pimped for the foreign minister, Alexander Bezborodko. On his return to Italy he bought lands formerly belonging to the noble Visconti family. No description of his singing appears to be known....

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Julian Rushton

revised by Manuel Couvreur

(b Aubignan, Carpentras, July 27, 1721; d Paris, Dec 2, 1784). French man of letters. As a boy he mixed with the many musicians in the service of the Italian prelates, attracted to Carpentras by generous stipends. Arnaud came to Paris from Provence in 1752 as attaché to Prince Louis of Würtemberg. He was Abbé de Grandchamp (1765), librarian to the Comte de Provence and historiographer to the order of St Lazare, and in 1771 became a member of the Académie Française. He was a classical scholar and accomplished linguist and translator, and collaborated with his close friend J.B.A. Suard (whose wife was said to be his mistress) on the Journal étranger, Gazette littéraire de l'Europe, Variétés littéraires and other writings. His humour, historical knowledge and vigorous polemical style make him stand out among the many literary writers on music of the second half of the 18th century....

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John A. Parkinson

(b c1740; d Lambeth, Jan 14, 1786). English composer. He was previously thought to be the ‘natural son’ of Thomas Arne mentioned by Burney. This comment, however, is now thought to refer to another son, Charles Arne, who was christened on 9 January 1734, before Thomas Arne’s marriage to Cecilia Young. There is no record for Michael Arne at St Paul’s, Covent Garden, where most of the Arne family were christened. His aunt, Mrs Susanna Cibber, was responsible for his upbringing. Under her guidance he is said to have made his stage début as the Page in Otway’s tragedy The Orphan. He first appeared as a singer in Manfredini’s concert on 20 February 1750, but his career as actor and vocalist was brief. Burney comments that ‘his father tried to make him a singer, but he was naturally idle and not very quick. However, he acquired a powerful hand on the harpsichord’. He showed an early gift as a composer. ...

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Lynda MacGregor

(b Niedernhall, Württemberg, Feb 1, 1773; d Frankfurt, July 26, 1806). German cellist. The son of a schoolmaster, who gave him preliminary musical training, he made local appearances with the cello when he was eight; in 1785 he was apprenticed to the town musician at Künzelsau, where he spent five years, followed by a period with his uncle, who held a similar position at Wertheim. But ensuing attempts to start a solo career, making short tours in southern Germany and Switzerland, proved abortive, hampered by the absence of proper training. Accordingly, he went first to Regensburg for some months' study with Max Willmann, the first cello teaching he had received. He proceeded to Hamburg in 1796; here, he profited greatly from the tuition and fine example of Romberg, who helped him to develop great technical ability and recommended his engagement, a year later, as solo cellist of the Frankfurt Opera. Arnold is said to have been described by his contemporaries as a great virtuoso, with a ‘consistently enchanting’ tone. He died of a lung infection at the age of 33 and was greatly mourned by the people of Frankfurt. His compositions include five cello concertos (published ...

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Robert Hoskins

(b London, Aug 10, 1740; d London, Oct 22, 1802). English composer, conductor, organist and editor. He was the son of Thomas Arnold, a commoner, and, according to some sources, the Princess Amelia. Arnold received his education as a Child of the Chapel Royal (c1750 to August 1758) and on leaving became known as an organist, conductor and teacher, and composed prolifically. In autumn 1764 he was engaged by John Beard as harpsichordist and composer to Covent Garden; there he compiled several pastiche operas, including the popular The Maid of the Mill (1765), which is among the supreme examples of the form. In 1769 Arnold bought Marylebone Gardens, and during the next six summers produced several short all-sung burlettas, composing or at least contributing to four new examples (now lost). These productions were simply written (from the literary point of view at least) and would have appealed to an audience with no previous experience of operatic music....

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(b Toulon, 1763; d Bordeaux, Oct 1816). French composer. He went to Paris in 1790 or 1791, attracted by the proliferation of theatres following the abolition of the privilege system. The impresario and founder of the Théâtre Molière, Boursault-Malherbe, engaged him first as a cellist and then, after Scio left for the Théâtre Feydeau in 1792, as orchestral conductor. Arquier was subsequently appointed conductor at the Théâtre de la Gaîté (1793) and, with some periods of absence, at the Théâtre des Jeunes-Elèves between 1800 and 1807. When Napoleon closed that theatre he moved back to the south of France, where he had begun his career as a composer. His most notable work is probably Marie-Christine (1793), a trenchant satire on the aristocratic society of the Austrian Netherlands at the time of the French army’s invasion; its music was judged to be ‘pleasant’.

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Robert Stevenson

(b 1760; d Seville, Jan 26, 1829). Spanish composer. After having served as maestro de capilla at Tortosa Cathedral and sub-maestro at Barcelona, on 4 July 1785, although not yet ordained a priest, he won the post of maestro de capilla at Gerona Cathedral, beating six competitors. On 1 November 1790, he became substitute maestro de capilla at Seville Cathedral with the right of succession. When Ripa died he took the post on 6 November 1795, occupying it until his death. In 1815, on submitting as a test piece his Maundy Thursday Lamentación primera for chorus, soloists and full orchestra, he was admitted to the Accademia Filarmonica at Bologna and on 23 November given the title dottore. Of his many sacred works in Seville listed by Rosa y López (1904), Anglès in 1928 encountered only the three Magnificat settings, three hymns, a Pange lingua and a four-voice mass concordant with a much used ...

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Marita P. McClymonds

[Arteaga, Stefano]

(b Moraleja de Coca, nr Segovia, Dec 26, 1747; d Paris, Oct 30, 1799). Spanish aesthetician and opera historian. After entering the Society of Jesus (1763) he studied in Madrid, Corsica and Italy, after which he abandoned the Society (1769) and attended Bologna University (1773–8). There at Padre Martini’s behest he wrote the first critical history of opera, Le rivoluzioni del teatro musicale italiano dalla sua origine fino al presente (Bologna, 1783–8/R, 2/1785), which met with immediate success and was translated into German (1789) and French (1802). He moved to Venice and to Rome, where he prepared works on ideal beauty (1789) and ancient and modern rhythm. His last years were spent in travel.

The original edition of Le rivoluzioni began with chapters on opera aesthetics and on the suitability of Italian as a language for music. His somewhat muddled history did not get beyond the advent of Metastasio: he viewed the early 18th century as the Golden Age of Music, singling out the composers Vinci and Jommelli as exemplary and crediting Metastasio with having raised opera to the greatest perfection possible. The second, ‘enlarged, varied and corrected’ edition of ...

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Philip Bate and David Lasocki

(b Lisburn, Co. Antrim, c1759; d Dublin, 1838). Irish flautist and composer. When 12 he was adopted by Count Bentinck, a British naval captain, and travelled widely with him in Europe. He quickly learnt the flute but abandoned it because of his dissatisfaction with the contemporary one-keyed instrument. He returned to the flute in 1774 at The Hague, after hearing the flautist Vanhamme (or Vanham) play a six-keyed instrument by Richard Potter and purchasing it from him. Around 1778 Ashe was appointed first flute at the Brussels Opera, having beaten Vanhamme, the incumbent, in a public audition. After settling in Dublin in 1782, he was engaged by Saloman in 1791 for the Haydn concerts in London, where he made his solo début the following year. He succeeded Monzani at the King's Theatre in 1805, and in 1810 also became director of the Bath concerts on the death of Rauzzini, whose pupil, Miss Comer, he had married in ...

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Brian W. Pritchard

English family of musicians. They were active in London and the provinces c 1780–1830.

(b ?London, ?1734; d London, March 14, 1805). Bassoonist and conductor. He was first bassoon at Covent Garden Theatre, and became more widely known after his success as assistant conductor to Joah Bates at the 1784 Commemoration of Handel in Westminster Abbey. Charles Burney (An Account of the Musical Performances … in Commemoration of Handel; London, 1785) records that the ‘unwearied zeal and diligence’ of ‘Mr John Ashly of the Guards … were constantly employed with such intelligence and success, as greatly facilitated the advancement of the plan’. According to Burney he was also the ‘Mr Ashley’ who played the then novel double bassoon at these celebrations. Ashley’s four sons (see below) also took part in the commemoration and later in 1784 the whole family first appeared in the provinces at the Hereford meeting of the Three Choirs; they took part in subsequent Handel commemorations and from ...