Tommaso Antonio Vitali

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Born: March 7, 1663; Bologna, Italy   Died: May 9, 1745; Modena, Italy  
Tommaso Antonio Vitali, son of famous Bolognese cellist Giovanni Battista Vitali, started his career as a musician in 1675, at the age of 12, when he followed his father to the d'Este court in Modena. While his father, who was one of the pre-eminent cellists and composers of his time, assumed one of the two posts of vicemaestri di cappella to Duke Francesco II, Tommaso Antonio joined the court orchestra as a violinist. The younger Vitali spent Read more almost his entire life as a musician at the Modena court, first as an instrumentalist, then as orchestra director; he left his position only in 1742, three years before his death.

Vitali's instruction on the violin most likely started with his father. In Modena, he studied composition with Antonio Maria Pacchionni, an expert contrapuntist and influential musician living in the city. In 1693 Vitali published his first two collections of trio sonatas, the style of which was reminiscent of those written by his father and by Arcangelo Corelli. A further set of sonatas was published two years later, with his final collection, the Op. 4 Concerti di sonata dedicated to Cardinal Ottoboni, an important Roman patron of music, appearing in 1703. The latter year also witnessed his induction into the Accademia Filarmonica, the renowned Bolognese academy of which his father was a founding member. Within three years his standing in the academy rose from instrumentalist to the rank of composer.

His surviving works consist entirely of instrumental music. The famous ciacona for violin and continuo, attributed to Vitali in the nineteenth century, and popular among violinists in the twentieth century, has been almost conclusively shown to not have come from his pen. Vitali had many distinguished pupils, including Girolamo Nicolò Laurenti, Luca Antonio Predieri, Evaristo Felice Dall'Abaco, and French composer Jean Baptiste Senaillé, who would play a key role in introducing Italian violin methods to the French court in the 1720s. Read less


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