Legrenzi, Giovanni, celebrated Italian composer; b. Clusone, near Bergamo (baptized), Aug. 12, 1626; d. Venice, May 27, 1690. He was the son of a violinist and composer named Giovanni Maria Legrenzi. In 1645 he became organist at S. Maria Maggiore in Bergamo, and in 1651 he was ordained and made resident chaplain there; in 1653 became first organist. In 1656 he was named maestro di cappella of the Accademia dello Spirito Santo in Ferrara. His first opera, Nino il giusto, was given in Ferrara in 1662. He left Ferrara in 1665, and in 1671 settled in Venice, where he served as an instructor at the Cons, dei Mendicanti; in 1683 was its maestro di coro. In 1677 he was maestro of the Oratorio at S. Maria della Fava. In 1681 he became vice-maestro of S. Marco; in 1685 was elected maestro there. Under his regimen the orch. Was increased to 34 instrumental parts (8 violins, 11 violettas, 2 viole da braccio, 3 violones, 4 theorbos, 2 cornets, 1 bassoon, and 3 trombones). Legrenzi was a noted teacher; among his pupils were Gasparini, Lotti, and Caldara, as well as his own nephew, Giovanni Varischino. Legrenzi’s sonatas are noteworthy, since they served as models of Baroque forms as later practiced by Vivaldi and Bach. His operas and oratorios were marked by a development of the da capo form in arias, and his carefully wrought orch. support of the vocal parts was of historic significance as presaging the development of opera.
dramatic: Opera: Nino il giusto (Ferrara, 1662; not extant); L’Achille in Sciro (Ferrara, 1663; not extant); Zenobia e Radamisto (Ferrara, 1665); Tiridate (based upon the preceding; Venice, 1668; not extant); Eteocle e Polinice (Venice, 1675); La divisione del mondo (Venice, 1675); Adone in Cipro (Venice, 1676; not extant); Germanico sul Reno (Venice, 1676); Totila (Venice, 1677); II Creso (Venice, 1681); Antioco il grande (Venice, 1681); II Pausania (Venice, 1682); Lisimaco riamato (Venice, 1682); L’Ottaviano Cesare Augusto (Mantua, 1682; not extant); Giustino (Venice, 1683); I due Cesari (Venice, 1683); L’anarchia dell’imperio (Venice, 1684; not extant); Publia Elio Pertinace (Venice, 1684; not extant); Ifianassa e Melampo (Pratolino, 1685; not extant). oratorios:Oratorio del giuditio (Vienna, 1665; not extant); Gli sponsali d’Ester (Modena, 1676; not extant);II Sedicia (Ferrara, 1676); La vendita del core humano (Ferrara, 1676); II Sisara (Ferrara, 1678; not extant); Decollatane di S. Giovanni (Ferrara, 1678; not extant); La morte del cor penitente (Vienna, 1705). vocal: sacred:Concerti musicali per uso di chiesa (Venice, 1654); Harmonia d’affeti devoti for 2-4 Voices (Venice, 1655); 13 Salmi a 5 (Venice, 1657); Sentimenti devoti for 2-3 Voices (Venice, 1660); Compiete con le lettanie & antifone della BV a 5 (Venice, 1662); Sacri e festivi concenti, messa epsalmi a due chori (Venice, 1667); Acclamationi divoti for I Voice (Bologna, 1670); Sacri musicali concerti for 2-3 Voices (Venice, 1689); Motetti sacri for 1 Voice (G. Varischino, ed.; Venice, 1692); Psalms; motets; etc. secular:Cantate e canzonette for 1 Voice (Bologna, 1676; modern ed. in Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era, XIV-XV, 1972); Idee armonische for 2-3 Voices (Venice, 1678); Echi di riverenza di cantate e canzoni (Bologna, 1678); cantatas; etc. instrumental: 18 Sonate a 2-3 (Venice, 1655); 30 Sonate da chiesa e da camera…a 3 (Venice, 1656); 16 Sonate a 2, 3, 5, & 6 (Venice, 1663); La cetra, sonate a 2-4(Venice, 1673); Balletti e correnti a 5 (G. Varischino, ed.; Venice, 1691); Sonate, 2-7 insts. con trombe e senza, overo flauti (Venice, e. 1695; not extant); several of the sonatas have been publ. in Hortus Musicus, XXXI (1949) and LXXXIIIand LXXXIV (1951), and in Le Pupitre, IV (Paris, 1968).
H. Nüssle, G. L. als Instrumentalkomponist (diss., Univ. of Munich, 1917); P. Fogaccia, G. L. (Bergamo, 1954); S. Bontà, The Church Sonatas ofG. L. (diss., Harvard Univ., 1964); J. Swale, A Thematic Catalogue of the Music of G. L. (diss., Univ. of Adelaide, 1983); F. Passadore and F Rossi, eds., G. L. e la Cappella ducale di San Marco (It., Eng., and Ger.; Florence, 1994).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire