Alessandro Poglietti

Biography

Born: 1630; Tuscany, Italy   Died: July, 1683; Vienna, Austria  
From 1661 to his death, Alessandro Poglietti was Imperial Organist in Vienna and composer of one of the most important cycles for keyboard before Bach's Goldberg Variations. Perhaps above most other foreign musicians of his time at the Viennese court, Poglietti least deserves his present state of neglect. His early life, including his date and place of birth, are unknown. He first appears in Austria in 1661, where he soon became court and chamber Read more organist to Emperor Leopold in July of that year, and quickly became well known as a teacher as well as performer and composer. Among his many influential contacts was Karl Leichtenstein-Castelcorno, the bishop of Olomouc in Moravia. Poglietti owned property in Moravia and called on the bishop for help with some disputes. Poglietti's musical reputation was so great that he was elevated to the aristocracy by the Emperor and even made a Knight of the Golden Spur by the Pope. Poglietti was brutally murdered and his children carried off into captivity by Ottoman troops in, or near, Vienna during the siege of 1683.

Of all his surviving output, Poglietti's Rossignolo for solo harpsichord has garnered the most attention in modern times. It is a massive cycle of many movments, several of them imitating certain regional traits (Bohemian Bagpipes, Hungarian Fiddle, etc.). In addition to his vast output for the organ and harpsichord, he also wrote many instrumental suites and sonatas in addition to full-scale masses and motets. Another of his more popular collection is a set of 12 ricercare or fugues for the organ, which reveal his mastery of the genre; the group includes fugues on original subjects and also on the popular German-language Christmas song Der Tag der ist so Freudenreich (later set by Bach). Poglietti skillfuly combines long and elegant Italianate melodies with the Germanic love for counterpoint and inventive harmonic and instrumental color. In recent decades, Poglietti's Rossingolo cycle has once again established itself as one of the great pillars of early keyboard repertoire; it is hoped that the reception of his other instrumental and vocal music will soon follow suit. Read less


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