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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....


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 ...


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 ...


David Fuller and Bruce Gustafson

Member of Couperin family

(b Paris, 1675–6 or 1678–9; d Versailles, May 30, 1728). Singer and harpsichordist, daughter of (2) François Couperin (i). Titon du Tillet and the act of decease agree on the year of her death, but disagree as to her age, the former giving it as 52, the latter as 49; her date of birth is otherwise undocumented. On her reception as ...


(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...


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...


Michael Talbot

revised by Enrico Careri

(b Rome, c1710; d ?Amsterdam, c1770 or earlier). Italian singer, harpsichordist and composer. A castrato soprano, he regularly appeared on Roman stages from 1729 to 1740; some librettos describe him as ‘virtuoso della duchessa di Gravina’. In 1730 he was listed as a member of the association of Roman musicians, the Congregazione di S Cecilia. Between 1740 and 1745 he sang in Venice, Milan and Bologna. In 1745 he came to London, where, as second soprano at the opera in the Haymarket, he was heard by Burney, who later described him as ‘a good musician with little voice’. Jozzi brought over some harpsichord sonatas by Domenico Alberti, whose pupil he claimed to be, and, passing them off as his own compositions, performed them with great success. Burney wrote of a ‘neatness and precision that were quite new in England at that time’ and ‘an accent, a spring and smartness in Jozzi's touch’. Jozzi had eight of Alberti's sonatas published under his own name, but the plagiarism was soon discovered and the sonatas were brought out by Walsh in ...


Jane M. Bowers

[Rebillé, Philbert; Rebillé, Philibert]

(b Thouars, 1639; d after March 1717). French flautist, singer, musette player and oboist . According to Michel de la Barre and Johann Joachim Quantz, Philbert was the first to distinguish himself on the one-keyed transverse flute in France. His name first appears in the accounts of the Menus Plaisirs in 1667, in which he was designated a ‘joueur de flutte ordinaire’ in the royal cabinet. On 18 August 1670 he was appointed to the Hautbois et Musettes de Poitou. Excelling in singing and comic mimicry as well as in playing the flute, musette and oboe, Philbert was celebrated in a poem by Alexandre Lainez and as Dracon in Les caractères by La Bruyère. He is reputed to have married the widow of Jean Brunet, at whose home he frequently played, after an unsavoury affair in which she had her husband poisoned so that she could marry Philbert. The flautist supposedly went to prison on account of this, but was later acquitted. Although he resigned his position in the royal chamber music at the end of ...


Malcolm Boyd and Roberto Pagano

Member of Scarlatti family

(b Naples, Oct 26, 1685; d Madrid, July 23, 1757). Composer, harpsichordist, and singer; sixth child of (1) Alessandro Scarlatti and Antonia Anzaloni. He never used his first Christian name (which could have led to confusion with his nephew Giuseppe): his name is always given in Italy as Domenico (or the familiar Mimo) Scarlatti, and in Portugal and Spain as Domingo Escarlate (Escarlati or Escarlatti).

Roberto Pagano

There is no specific information on Domenico Scarlatti’s introduction to music. In so large a family of musicians, his uncle Francesco and brother Pietro, if not his father, would soon have noticed and nurtured his special gifts; biographers have speculated that he finished his musical education under Gaetano Greco or Bernardo Pasquini. Burney states that while Alessandro was living in Naples he entrusted Domenico to Francesco Gasparini in Rome (BurneyH, vol.2, 635), but Kirkpatrick suggests that Burney’s chronology is confused and attributes greater importance to Domenico’s contact with Gasparini in Venice between ...