Composer of opera and sacred music in classical style; b. Aversa, near Naples, Sept. 10, 1714; d. Naples, Aug. 25, 1774. After basic music training under the Aversa cathedral choirmaster, Mazillo, and contact with contemporary musicians such as Feo, Durante, and Leo, he produced his first opera, L'Errore amoroso, in 1737. In 1741, while under the tutelage of Padre Giovanni Martini, he began writing sacred works of artistic importance. Following further opera composition in Venice and Vienna, he was appointed assistant maestro di cappella of St. Peter's in 1750, and three years later, Kapellmeister to the Duke of Württemberg at Stuttgart. It was during his 15-year stay in Germany that his style underwent a distinct change. From the flowing Neapolitian idiom of his Italian compositions, he turned toward placing more emphasis on harmonic complexity, frequent and free use of modulation, and instrumental accompaniment. Because of these innovations he is sometimes called the Italian Glück. His sacred works include Masses, motets, oratorios, Te Deums, Offertory hymns, and sequences. His most famous, Miserere, for two voices, was completed just before his death.
Bibliography: r. eitner, Quellen-Lexikon der Musiker und Musikgelehrten, 10 v. (Leipzig 1900–04; New York 1947) 5:294–299, listing of church music. o. ursprung, Die katholische Kirchenmusik (Handbuch der Musikwissenschaft 8; Postdam 1931). a. mondolfi, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949–) 7:142–154. j. o. carlson, Selected Masses of Niccolò Jommelli (Ph.D. diss. University of Illinois 1974). w. hochstein, Die Kirchenmusik von Niccolò Jommelli (1714–1774) (Hildesheim 1984). m. p. mcclymonds, Niccolò Jommelli: The Last Years, 1769–1774 (Ann Arbor 1980); "Niccolò Jommelli," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed., s. sadie (New York 1980) 9:689–695. d. e. monson, "Niccolò Jommelli," in International Dictionary of Opera, ed., c. s. larue, (Detroit 1993) 653–56. n. slonimsky, ed. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (New York 1992) 862–63. a. l. tolkoff, The Stuttgart Operas of Niccolò Jommelli (Ph.D. diss. Yale University 1974).