Giuseppe Torelli

Virtuoso violinist and violist Giuseppe Torelli was a Baroque composer whose works played an essential role in the development of the concerto grosso and the instrumental concerto. Born during the spring of 1658 in the northern Italian city of Verona, little is known about Torelli's background, causing debate regarding the identity of his early instructors. In the early 1680s, he moved to Bologna and became a member of the legendary Accademia Filarmonica while playing viola with the Cappella Musicale at San Petronio. Soon, he was studying composition with Giacomo Antonio Perti and rose to the rank of "maestro de cappella" at the Imola Cathedral.

With the publication of Torelli's first works, including 12 Concertino per Camera for Violin and Cello, Op. 4., the violin was given extended solo passages while accompanied by the orchestra, resulting in the birth of the violin concerto. Though his earliest works were considered somewhat conventional, each subsequent piece was more robust than the last, producing his crowning achievements of the genre, the 12 Concerti Musicali and 12 Concerti Grossi con una Pastorale.

While performing with Cappella Musicale at San Petronio, he befriended virtuoso trumpeter Giovanni Pellegrino Brandi. Newly invigorated, Torelli produced over 30 pieces for trumpet, which was considered unusual for a string player. His trumpet concertos, featuring one, two, or four trumpets, were occasionally offset by a portion of the string section creating, not a trumpet concerto, but a group concerto with trumpet. Inspired by Arcangelo Corelli's work, Torelli is one of the great forces in the trumpet's rise to prominence.

As the turn of the century neared, Torelli relocated to the German town of Ansbach where he joined the court of Georg Friedrich II. Though he was writing less frequently, he began an extended collaboration with the famous castrato Pistocchi, performing concerts and gaining large fees. Returning to Bologna toward the end of his life, Torelli was slowing down, however, in his final year, he was able to complete one of his most famous pieces, the Concerto Grosso, Op. 8, No. 6, “Christmas”. Along with Corelli, Torelli is considered one of the greatest concerto composers of the Baroque style. His influence over the giants of the early part of the 18th century is readily apparent, notably Antonio Vivaldi.

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