Giovanni Hoffmann


Born: 1770; Vienna, Austria   Died: 1814; Vienna, Austria  
Giovanni Hoffmann, sometimes called "Johann" by German chroniclers (although this name is not authentic), is a shadowy figure from the last decade of the eighteenth century. He was apparently one of the top virtuosi of his day upon the mandolin, an instrument that enjoyed a craze in Europe beginning in the middle of the 1700s and lasting until about 1830. Both Beethoven and Mozart wrote music for the mandolin, but those pieces were not in the Read more mainstream of music for the instrument -- the works by Giovanni Hoffmann are very much so.

Hoffmann's greatest works for the mandolin are his two concerti, which have survived in manuscript. The Mandolin Concerto in D major is an extraordinary piece, as it shows an understanding of the basic functions of concerto form well enough that, rather than serving a mere showpiece for a limited instrument, it is a well-integrated musical statement nearly on par with a Haydn or Mozart concerto. Hoffmann's Opus 1 was a collection of three mandolin duets issued by the house of Traeg in Vienna in 1799. A second group of three more duets makes up his Opus 2, published by Artaria, and through Traeg he also published a volume of string trios that came with a supplement of arrangements of other pieces incorporating a mandolin part. This accounts for everything that is known by Giovanni Hoffmann.

Nothing is known about Giovanni Hoffmann, the man. The style of the concerti suggests a composition date of the 1770s or 1780s. It was common for non-Italian musicians to take an Italian first name, leading most German scholars to assume that his real name was "Johann" and that he was either Austrian or German, as no account of him has been found outside of Vienna. Nonetheless, there was a prominent family of musicians originating in Bohemia named "Hoffmann" who were well-known in the Age of Enlightenment, so without more information it is impossible to discount the notion that this "Giovanni Hoffmann" may have been among their number. Read less
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  • 1.
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 38092 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Emanuele Barbella,  Giovanni Francesco Giulia,  Giovanni Paisiello,  Giovanni Hoffmann
    Performer:  Anna Torge
    Conductor:  Michael Alexander Willens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Academy
    CD: $17.99
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