Born: March, 1605; Verona, Italy
Died: April 17, 1669; Vienna, Austria
Antonio Bertali was a hugely influential composer and violin virtuoso whose modern reputation pales in comparison to the fame he achieved in his own lifetime. He was born in Verona in 1605 where he later gained his early musical training at the Cathedral under Stefano Bernardi. In 1662 Bernardi accepted an appointment with the Bishop of Breslau (Wroclaw) and it is often assumed that this Habsburg connection led to Bertali's appointment in ViennaRead more in 1624. He must have impressed in his early years there, in 1631 he was given the important commission of composing a cantata, Donna Real, for the marriage of the future Emperor Ferdinand III to the Spanish Infanta Anna Maria. He composed numerous other works for special occasions and received several accolades, including being referred to as valaroso nel violino by Giovanni Bertoli in 1645. Following the death of Giovanni Valentini in 1649, Bertali succeeded him as Kapellmeister of the imperial court. During this time Bertali devoted a great deal of attention to promoting Italian opera at the Habsburg capital -- to which he made a substantial contribution.
Bertali often composed in a lavish and virtuosic style, featuring highly varied instrumental and vocal textures. The vast number of his manuscript compositions mentioned in the inventory of the Emperor's private collection (Distinta specificatione) has been lost. Pavel Vejvanovksy, the Moravian Kapellmeister to the Bishop of Olomouc, copied a great number of Bertali's compositions, and, rather surprisingly, many of these still await scholarly attention and revival.
As his education and background suggest, it is north Italian influences that are most apparent in Bertali's music. In his vocal music, the influences of Monteverdi and Cavalli are seldom far beneath the surface as is the influence on his instrumental music of his predecessor at Vienna, Valentini. In some works, such as the impressive Vidi Lucirferum and a Salve Regina in G minor, Bertali combines elements of the stylo antico with more modern Italian operatic trends. Read less