Baroque composer of opera and sacred music; b. Montefestino, Italy, 1642; d. Genoa, Feb. 25?, 1682. Much obscurity and legend surround the events of his life. He seems to have studied at Modena and at various times to have been active in Rome, Venice, Turin, and Genoa; but he did not hold a continuous position in any one place. An amorous liaison in Venice resulted (1677) in his being wounded by order of the woman's family. He later was assassinated in Genoa; the causes of his murder are uncertain. As a musician he was industrious and serious, and may rightly be considered the most progressive dramatic composer of the mid-17th century, the link between the Venetian school of cavalli and the Neapolitan school of A. scarlatti. Among his compositions are operas and oratorios, numerous chamber and church sonatas, serenatas, and instrumental sonatas that resemble the early concerto in form and style. His oratorio La Forza dell'amor paterno (Genoa 1678; new ed. 1931) is considered his masterpiece by A. Gentili, who discovered the score in Turin in 1927.
Bibliography: o. h. jander, A Catalogue of the Manuscripts of Compositions by Alessandro Stradella Found in European and American Libraries (Wellesley, Mass. 1960). a. gentili, Alessandro Stradella (Turin 1936). r. giazotto, Vita di A. Stradella, 2 v. (Milan 1962). g. roncaglia, Le composizioni strumentali di A. Stradella (Milan 1942), repr. from Estratto dalla Rivista musicale italiana 46.1 (1942) 57–88. s. goddard Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 8:106–107. m. f. bukofzer, Music in the Baroque Era (New York 1947). a. j. b. hutchings, The Baroque Concerto (New York 1961). o. h. jander, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949–) 12: 1418–22. k. a. chaikin, "The Solo Cantatas of Alessandro Stradella (1644–1682)" (Ph.D. diss. Stanford University, 1975). h. dietz, "Musikalische Struktur und Architektur im Werke Alessandro Stradellas," Analecta Musicologica 9 (1970), 78–93. c. gianturco, "Alessandro Stradella" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 18, ed. s. sadie (New York 1980) 188–193; Alessandro Stradella (1639–1682), His Life and Music (Oxford 1994). o. hughes jander, "The Minor Dramatic Works of Alessandro Stradella" (Ph.D. diss. Harvard University, 1963). d. m. randel, ed., The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Cambridge 1996) 874. n. slonimsky, ed., Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Eighth Edition (New York 1992) 1798.
[f. j. guentner]
Stradella, Alessandro, important Italian composer; b. Nepi, near Viterbo, 1639; d. (murdered) Genoa, Feb. 25, 1682. He was a scion of nobility, and received his early training in Bologna. In 1667 he went to Rome, where he composed oratorios, prologues, intermezzos for opera, etc. He led a tempestuous life, replete with illicit liaisons, flights from personal vendettas, and some criminal acts. In Rome he attempted to embezzle funds from the Roman Catholic church, and in 1669 fled the city to avoid exposure. He returned to Rome after the affair calmed down, but again got in trouble when he aroused the enmity of Cardinal Alderan Cibo. In 1677 he was forced to flee Rome again, and he went to Venice, where he became involved in a torrid affair with the fiancee of the Venetian nobleman Alvise Contarini; he persuaded the lady to accompany him to Turin, and the outraged bridegroom and a band of assassins followed in hot pursuit. Stradella escaped and fled to Genoa. There he became entangled with a married woman, a sister of the Lomellini brothers, who had a high social standing in the town. This time Stradella failed to evade the vengeful brothers, who hired an experienced murderer to kill him; the bloody deed was done on Feb. 25, 1682. A rather successful opera, Alessandro Stradella by Flotow (Hamburg, 1844), dramatized his stormy life and death; other operas on Stradella were composed by Niedermeyer (Paris, 1837) and Sinico (Lugo, 1863).
As a composer, Stradella left an important legacy, both in opera and in instrumental writing. His operas La forza dell’amor paterno, Le gare dell’amore eroico, and Il Trespole tutore were staged in Genoa (1678–79); he also composed the oratorio La Susanna and a wedding serenade, Il barcheggio, for Duke Francesco d’Este of Modena (1681). Other operas were Il moro per amore, Il Corispero, and Doridea. His oratorios include S. Giovanni Battista and S. Giovanni Crisostomo; another oratorio, S. Editta, vergine e monaca, regina d’Inghilterra, remained unfinished. He wrote about 25 sinfonias (sonatas), most of them for violin with basso ostinato, motets, arias, and canzonettas. An ed. of his oratorios was begun in 1969, under the editorship of L. Bianchi.
A. Catelani, Delle opere di A. S. esistenti nell’archivio musicale della R. Biblioteca Palatina di Modena (Modena, 1866); H. Hess, Die Opern A. S.’s, in Publicationen der Internationalen Musik-Gesellschaft, supplement, II/3 (1906); F. Crawford, S. (London, 1911); A. Gentili, A. S. (Turin, 1936); G. Roncaglia, Il genio novatore di A. S. (Modena, 1941); O. Jander, A Catalogue of the Manuscripts of Compositions by A. S. Found in European and American Libraries (Wellesley, Mass., 1960; second ed., rev., 1962); R. Giazotto, Vita di A. S. (2 vols., Milan, 1962); O. Jander, A. S. and His Minor Dramatic Works (diss., Harvard Univ., 1962); L. Bianchi, Carissimi, S., Scarlatti e l’oratorio musicale (Rome, 1969); C. Gianturco, The Operas of A. S. (1644–1682) (diss., Univ. of Oxford, 1970); idem, ed., A. S. e Modena (Modena, 1983); C. Gianturco and E. McCrickard, A. S. (1639–1682): A Thematic Catalog of His Compositions (Stuyvesant, N.Y., 1991).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire