Not much is known about the life of Tomaso Albinoni. He was the eldest son of a wealthy Venetian paper merchant. The family was very well off, and in his adult life Albinoni was financially independent. He thought of himself as an amateur musician. Although completely trained in his art, he did not seek professional employment in music. He was a fine performer on the violin, and one of the most prolific writers of the violin concerto in the high Baroque. Initially Albinoni attempted to compose church music, but did not meet with much success. However in 1694, with the publication of 12 trio sonatas and the production of his opera Zenobia, Regina de Palmireni, Albinoni had found his milieu. For the rest of his life he would compose cantatas, operas, instrumental sonatas and concerti. His operas were popular throughout Italy, and are very original, although not well known today. In 1705, he married the soprano opera singer Margherita Rimandi. Together they had six children, while she continued with her singing career. Tomaso Albinoni meanwhile had inherited a portion of his father's estate, and began a singing school. In 1722, he published a collection of 12 concerti. He also was invited to Munich where a production of his opera I veri amici was given as part of the festivities honoring the marriage of the Prince Elector to the daughter of the Emperor. This occurred at perhaps the height of Albinoni's fame.
Albinoni was extremely prolific and is said to have composed over 80 operas, 40 solo cantatas, 79 sonatas, 59 concerti, and 8 sinfonias. He composed oboe concertos, treating the oboe as a lyrical, melodic instrument, much as the voice would have been treated. His compositions are extremely individual, and he possessed great gifts as a melodist. His compositions were much admired by Johann Sebastian Bach, who used themes of Albinoni's in several of his keyboard fugues. Two of these themes come from Albinoni's work Opera Prima. Bach also used to practice realizing the continuo harmonies using bass lines of Albinoni, and pieces of Albinoni's were used by Bach for teaching. Albinoni was at one time accorded a place in the history of music next to Arcangelo Corelli and Antonio Vivaldi. At the beginning of the twentieth century, editions of his works were published, and his violin music is still performed.