Born: September 25, 1785; Lambeth, England
Died: March 23, 1806; Chelsea, London, England
George Frederick Saunders was the son of Samuel Saunders and Julia Pinto, daughter of a well-known English violinist, Thomas Pinto, of Neapolitan descent. (They were not related to the Portuguese composer Francisco Anónio Norberto dos Santos Pinto [1815 - 1860] nor to the Brazilian composer Luiz Alvares Pinto [1719 - 1789].)
Young George Frederick started studying violin at a very young age, and became a pupil of Salomon. He startedRead more making appearances as a prodigy in 1796, when he played a violin concerto at a benefit concert. In addition, he learned piano and it supplanted the violin as his favorite instrument.
Pinto was a very handsome young man, and apparently had a kind heart. He visited prisons and gave large parts of his earnings to its inmates. His talents were greatly praised. Samuel Wesley said of him that "a greater musical Genius has not been known," and a bright illustrious future was predicted for him.
But it was not to be. He died six months short of his 21st birthday. The actual cause of his death is not known, but he was called by his contemporaries "a martyr to dissipation." His teacher Salomon said that "if he had lived and been able to resist the allurements of society, England would have had the honour of producing a second Mozart."
During his lifetime and shortly after it, his compositions were very popular in England, but soon were forgotten. The composer Sterndale Bennett led a revival of his music around the midpoint of the nineteenth century, and interest in the music reappeared in the 1960s.
Pinto wrote piano solo works (including two remarkable piano sonatas with ideas that apparently influenced Beethoven), violin works (including a concerto that has been lost), and a group of songs that are said to be equal in quality to the work Schubert wrote before he was 20. The violin sonatas are works that are balanced between the two instruments; one in G minor is described as particularly fine. The fact that all these fine works were composed within the three years period before his death casts doubts on the contemporary idea that Pinto was "dissipated." Read less
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