Jommelli, Niccolo

views updated

Jommelli, Niccolo

Jommelli, Niccolo, greatly significant Italian composer; b. Aversa, near Naples, Sept. 10, 1714; d. Naples, Aug. 25, 1774. He began his musical studies with Canon Muzzillo, the director of the Cathedral choir in Aversa. In 1725 he entered the Cons. S. Onofrio in Naples, where he studied with Prota and Feo; in 1728 he enrolled in the Cons. Pietà dei Turchini in Naples, where he continued his studies with Fago, Sarcuni, and Basso. In 1737 he composed a comic opera, L’errore amoroso, for Naples; this was followed by a 2nd comic opera, Odoardo (Naples, 1738). On Jan. 16, 1740, his first serious opera, Riamerò re de’ Goti, was produced in Rome. After composing Astianatte (Rome, Feb. 4, 1741), he went to Bologna for the premiere of his Ezio (April 29, 1741). There he studied with Padre Martini, and was also elected to membership in the Accademia Filarmonica. He then proceeded to Venice, where his opera Merope was given on Dec. 26, 1741. In 1743 he became music director of the Ospedale degli Incurabili there; during this time he composed several notable sacred works, including the oratorios Isacco figura del Redentore and La Betulla liberata. In 1747 he left Venice for Rome, and in 1749 he went to Vienna, where his opera Achille in Sciro was successfully staged on Aug. 30, 1749. Several of his operas had been performed in Stuttgart, resulting in a commission for a new opera from Karl Eugen, the Duke of Württemberg. Fetonte was premiered in Stuttgart on the duke’s birthday on Feb. 11, 1753. On Jan. 1, 1754, Jommelli became Ober-Kapellmeister in Stuttgart. Among the operas he composed for Stuttgart were Pelope (Feb. 11, 1755), La Nitteti (Feb. 11, 1759), and L’Olimpiade (Feb. 11, 1761); he also composed sacred music, including a Miserere and a Te Deum, both of which were widely performed. In 1768 Jommelli accepted an offer from King José of Portugal to compose operas and sacred music for the court of Lisbon. He left Stuttgart in 1769 and returned to Italy; for Naples he composed the operas Armida abbandonata (May 30, 1770) and Ifigenia in Tauride (May 30, 1771). His opera II trionfo di delia was produced in Lisbon with great success on June 6, 1774.

The historical significance of Jommelli lies in his being a mediator between the German and Italian styles of composition, especially in opera. He introduced into Italian opera the German solidity of harmonic texture and also the expressive dynamics associated with the “Mannheim” school of composition; he also abandoned the formal Neapolitan convention of the da capo aria, thus contributing to a more progressive and realistic operatic form. This earned him the sobriquet “the Italian Gluck.” On the other hand, he influenced the development, during his long stay in Stuttgart, of German opera in the direction of simple melodiousness and natural rhythmic flow without dependence on contrapuntal techniques. Thus his influence was beneficial both for his native art and for the most austere German operatic traditions.


dramatic: Opera: L’errore amoroso, comic opera (Naples, 1737; not extant); Odoardo, comic opera (Naples, 1738; not extant); Ricimero re de’ Goti (Rome, Jan. 16, 1740); Astianatte (Rome, Feb. 4, 1741; also known as Andromaca); Ezio (Bologna, April 29, 1741; 2nd ver., Naples, Nov. 4, 1748; 3rd ver., Stuttgart, Feb. 11, 1758, not extant; 4th ver., 1771; rev. by da Silva, Lisbon, April 20, 1772); Merope (Venice, Dec. 26, 1741); Semiramide riconosiuta (Turin, Dec. 26, 1741; 2nd ver., Piacenza, 1753; 3rd ver., Stuttgart, Feb. 11, 1762); Don Chichibio, intermezzi (Rome, 1742); Eumene (Bologna, May 5, 1742; 2nd ver., as Artemisia, Naples, May 30, 1747); Semiramide (Venice, Dec. 26, 1742); Tito Manlio (Turin, 1743; 2nd ver., Venice, 1746, not extant; 3rd ver., Stuttgart, Jan. 6, 1758, not extant); Demofoonte (Padua, June 13, 1743; 2nd ver., Milan, 1753; 3rd ver., Stuttgart, Feb. 11, 1764; rev., Ludwigsburg, Feb. 11, 1765; rev. by da Silva, Lisbon, June 6, 1775; 4th ver., Naples, Nov. 4, 1770); Alessandro nell’Indie (Ferrara, 1744, not extant; 2nd ver., Stuttgart, Feb. 11, 1760, not extant; rev. by da Silva, Lisbon, June 6, 1776); Ciro riconosciuto (Bologna, May 4, 1744; 2nd ver., 1747?; 3rd ver., Venice, 1749; completely new ver., 1751 or 1758); Sofonisba (Venice, 1746; not extant); Cap Mario (Rome, Feb. 6, 1746; 2nd ver., Bologna, 1751); Antigono (Lucca, Aug. 24, 1746); Didone abbandonata (Rome, Jan. 28, 1747; 2nd ver., Vienna, Dec. 8, 1749; 3rd ver., Stuttgart, Feb. 11, 1763); L’amore in maschera, comic opera (Naples, 1748; not extant); La cantata e disfida di Don Trastullo, intermezzi (Rome, 1749; 2nd ver., Lucca, 1762); Artaserse (Rome, Feb. 4, 1749; 2nd ver., Stuttgart, Aug. 30, 1756); Demetrio (Parma, 1749); Achille in Sciro (Vienna, Aug. 30, 1749; 2nd ver., Rome, Jan. 26, 1771); Cesare in Egitto (Rome, 1751; not extant); La Villana nobile, comic opera (Palermo, 1751; not extant); Ifigenia in Aulide (Rome, Feb. 9, 1751; rev. with arias by Traetta, Naples, Dec. 18, 1753); L’Uccellatrice, intermezzi (Venice, May 6, 1751; 2nd ver. as II paratajo [ovvero] La Pipée, Paris, Sept. 25, 1753); Ipermestra (Spoleto, Oct. 1751); Talestri (Rome, Dec. 28, 1751); / Rivali delusi, intermezzi (Rome, 1752); Attilio Regolo (Rome, Jan. 8, 1753); Fetonte (Stuttgart, Feb. 11, 1753, not extant; 2nd ver., Ludwigsburg, Feb. 11, 1768); La clemenza di Tito (Stuttgart, Aug. 30, 1753, not extant; 2nd ver., Ludwigsburg, Jan. 6, 1765, not extant; rev. by da Silva, Lisbon, June 6, 1771); Bajazette (Turin, Dec. 26, 1753); Don Falcone, intermezzi (Bologna, Jan. 22, 1754); Lucio Vero (Milan, 1754); Catone in Utica (Stuttgart, Aug. 30, 1754; not extant); Pelope (Stuttgart, Feb. 11, 1755; rev. by da Silva, Salva-terra, 1768); Enea nel Lazio (Stuttgart, Aug. 30, 1755, not extant; rev. by da Silva, Salvaterra, 1767); Creso (Rome, Feb. 5, 1757); Temistocle (Naples, Dec. 18, 1757; 2nd ver., Ludwigsburg, Nov. 4, 1765); La Nitteti (Stuttgart, Feb. 11, 1759, not extant; rev. by da Silva, Lisbon, June 6, 1770); Endimione ovvero II trionfo d’amore, pastorale (Stuttgart, 1759, not extant; 2nd ver., Queluz, June 29, 1780); Cap Fabrizio (Mannheim, Nov. 4, 1760; includes arias by G. Cola); L’Olimpiade (Stuttgart, Feb. 11, 1761; rev. by da Silva, Lisbon, March 31, 1774); L’isola disabitata, pastorale (Ludwigsburg, Nov. 4, 1761, not extant; 2nd ver., Queluz, March 31, 1780); // trionfo d’amore, pastorale (Ludwigsburg, Feb. 16, 1763; not extant); La pastorella illustre, pastorale (Stuttgart, Nov. 4, 1763, not extant; rev. by da Silva, Salvaterra, 1773); II Re pastore (Ludwigsburg, Nov. 4, 1764, not extant; rev. by da Silva, Salvaterra, 1770); Imeneo in Atene, pastorale (Ludwigsburg, Nov. 4, 1765; rev. by da Silva, Lisbon, March 19, 1773); La Critica, comic opera (Ludwigsburg, 1766; rev. as II giuoco di picchetto, Koblenz, 1772; rev. as La conversazione [e] L’accademia di musica, Salvaterra, 1775); Vologeso (Ludwigsburg, Feb. 11, 1766; rev. by da Silva, Salvaterra, 1769); II matrimonio per concorso, comic opera (Ludwigsburg, Nov. 4, 1766, not extant; rev. by da Silva, Salvaterra, 1770); II Cacciatore deluso [ovvero] La Semiramide in bernesco, serious-comic opera (Tübingen, Nov. 4, 1767; rev. by da Silva, Salvaterra, 1771); La Schiava liberata, serious-comic opera (Ludwigsburg, Dec. 18, 1768; rev. by da Silva, Lisbon, March 31, 1770); Armida abbandonata (Naples, May 30, 1770; rev. by da Silva, Lisbon, March 31, 1773); L’amante cacciatore, intermezzi (Rome, 1771; not extant); Le avventure di Cleomede, serious-comic opera (Naples, 1771); rev. by da Silva, Lisbon, June 6, 1772); Ifigenia in Tauride (Naples, May 30, 1771; rev. by da Silva, Salvaterra, 1776); II trionfo di Clelia (Naples, 1774); rev. by da Silva, Lisbon, June 6, 1774); etc. OTHER: Componimento drammatico (Rome, Feb. 9, 1747; not extant); Componimento drammatico (Ronciglione, Feb. 28, 1751; not extant); La reggia de’ Fati (with G.B. Sammartini; Milan, March 13, 1753); La pastorale offerta (with G.B. Sammartini; Milan, March 19, 1753); II giardino incanto (Stuttgart, 1755; not extant); L’asilo d’amore (Stuttgart, Feb. 11, 1758; not extant); Le Cinesi (Ludwigsburg, 1765; not extant); L’unione coronata (Solitude, Sept. 22, 1768; not extant); Cerere placata (Naples, Sept. 14, 1772). Also contributions to a number of pasticcios. ORATORIOS, PASSIONS, AND SACRED CANTATAS: Che impetuoso è questo torrente for 2 Sopranos, Tenor, and Orch. (Naples, 1740); Isacco figura del Redentore for 2 Sopranos, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, and Orch. (Venice, 1742); La Betulla liberata for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, and Orch. (Venice, 1743); Gioas for 3 Sopranos, 3 Altos, Chorus, and Strings (Venice, 1745); Juda proditor for 3 Sopranos, 3 Altos, and Chorus (Venice, 1746); not extant); Ove son? Chi mi guida? for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Orch. (Naples, 1747); La passione di Gesù Cristo for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus, and Orch. (Rome, 1749); Giuseppe glorificato in Egitto for 2 Sopranos, Tenor, and Orch. (Rome, 1749); Le Spose di Elcana for Chorus (Palermo, 1750; not extant); In questa incolte riva for 2 Sopranos and Orch. (Rome, May 20, 1751); Non più: L’atteso istante for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Orch. (Rome, 1752); II sacrifizio di Gefte for Chorus and Strings (Palermo, 1753; not extant); La reconciliazione della Virtù e della Gloria for 2-part Chorus (Pistoia, 1754; not extant); Gerusalemme convertita (Palermo, 1755; not extant); II sogno di Nabucco (Palermo, 1755; not extant); etc. OTHER: Additional sacred works include many masses, as well as graduais, offertories, antiphones, Psalms, motets, hymns, etc. His instrumental works include harpsichord concertos, quartets, divertimenti, and sonatas.


S. Mattei, Elogio del J. (Colle, 1785); P. Alfieri, Notizie biografiche di N. J. (Rome, 1845); H. Abert, N. J. als Opernkomponist (Halle, 1908); R. Pattengale, The Cantatas ofN. J. (diss., Univ. of Mich., 1973); J. Carlson, Selected Masses of N. J. (diss., Univ. of III, 1974); L. Tolkoff, The Stuttgart Operas ofN.J. (diss., Yale Univ., 1974); M. McClymonds, N. J.: The Last Years, 1769-1774 (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1980); W. Hochstein, Die Kirchenmusik von N. J. (1714–1774): Unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der liturgisch gebundenen Kompositionen (2 vols., Hildesheim, 1984).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire