Sammartini, Giovanni Battista

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Sammartini, Giovanni Battista

Sammartini, Giovanni Battista , significant Italian composer and pedagogue, brother of Giuseppe (Francesco Gaspare Melchiorre Baldassare) Sammartini; b. probably in Milan, 1700 or 1701; d. there, Jan. 15, 1775. It is likely that he studied music with his father, Alexis Saint- Martin, a French oboist who settled in Italy. In 1728 he became maestro di cappella of the Congregation of the SS. Entierro in Milan, which met at the Jesuit church of S. Fedele; he held this position most of his life. He also held similar positions with various other churches in Milan, and was active as a composer of sacred music and as an organist. In 1768 he became maestro di cappella to the ducal chapel at S. Gottardo; was a founder-member of Milan’s philharmonic society. A noted teacher, he taught at the Collegio de’ Nobili from 1730. His most famous pupil was Gluck, who studied with him from about 1737 to 1741. Sammartini’s historical importance rests upon his contribution to the development of the Classical style; his large body of syms. (68 in all), concertos, and other works for orch. are noteworthy for their extensive thematic development and evolution of sonata form. The earliest known dated syms., in 3-movement form, are credited to him. However, the claim that he composed a 4-movement sym. in 1734 lacks confirmation. See B. Churgin, ed., The Symphonies of G.B. S.(Cambridge, Mass., 1968– ). Additional works for orch. include 6 violin concertos, a Concerto for 2 Violins, 2 flute concertos, a Concerto for 2 Violins and 2 Oboes, 7 orch. concertinos, etc. His chamber music includes 21 quartets, 6 quintets, about 200 trios, many sonatas and duets, etc. He also composed the following works for the theater: Memet, opera (Lodi, 1732), L’ambizione superata dalla virtù, opera (Milan, Dec. 26, 1734), L’Agrippina, moglie di Tiberio, opera (Milan, Jan. 1743), La gara dei geni, introduzione e festa da ballo (Milan, May 28, 1747), and II trionfo d’amore, ballet (Milan, 1773). He also composed a number of arias and secular cantatas, as well as sacred cantatas and other religious works, including the oratorio Gesù bambino adorato dalli pastori (Milan, Jan. 11, 1726). Many other works attributed to him are doubtful or spurious.


B. Churgin, The Symphonies ofG.B. S.(diss., Harvard Univ., 1963); N. Jenkins and B. Churgin, Thematic Catalogue of the Works of G.B. S.: Orchestral and Vocal Music (Cambridge, Mass., 1976); M. Marley, The Sacred Cantatas of G.B. S.(diss., Univ. of Cincinnati, 1978); A. Gehann, G.B. S.: Die Konzerte (Frankfurt am Main, 1995).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Sammartini, Giovanni-Battista

views updated May 11 2018

Sammartini, Giovanni-Battista (b c.1700; d Milan, 1775). It. composer and organist. Leading Milan composer of his day; choirmaster of eight churches. Pioneer of sonata form and teacher of Gluck, 1737–41. Said to have comp. 2,000 works in all genres, incl. operas, over 70 syms., many concs., and str. qts., str. quintets, etc.

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Giovanni Battista Sammartini

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