Born: April 12, 1722
Died: May 7, 1793; Florence, Italy
Pietro Nardini was an early developer who at age 12 became a pupil of the great violinist/composer Giuseppe Tartini (1692 - 1770) at Padua. He remained there for six years and had already started developing a reputation as a player and came into demand as a teacher. He frequently toured, but had permanent positions as well, for instance serving as the concert master of the ducal court orchestra in Stuttgart, which was directed by Jommelli fromRead more October 1762 to March, 1765.
Nardini returned to Livorno in May 1766. When Tartini fell gravely ill, he dropped everything and rushed to Padua, where he cared for him as a son until Tartini's death in February 1770. After that, he was offered the position of music director of the ducal court in Florence and remained in that position until the year before his death. Leopold Mozart, who in addition to being music's most famous father was a great teacher and author of the definitive Classical-era book on violin playing, had a chance to hear Nardini play while he was in his orchestral position in Stuttgart. He wrote that "The beauty, purity, and evenness of his tone and his cantabile [singing line] cannot be surpassed," but also noted that Nardini did not play any greatly difficult music.
Almost all other commentators praise his tone and his abilities in singing lines first and testimony shows that he retained these qualities into old age. Schobert said, "One has seen ice-cold aristocrats cry when he performed an adagio." Schobert went on to say " unlike Tartini, he did not tear out the notes by the roots, but merely kissed their tips." Other witnesses, Burney and Gyrowetz, repeated similar sentiments, but added that he could play very difficult passages with great bravura. Burney, who heard both Nardini and Paganini, ranked Nardini as the greater of the two. Not unexpectedly, most of his music is for violin and almost all of it is instrumental. He took the form of the sonata that Tartini used, slow-fast-fast, and invariably, the opening adagio movements are the best according to commentators. The middle movements are classical sonata forms and the finales are either rondos or variations. He wrote some attractive string quartets and works for harpsichord. Read less