Alessandro Stradella (1639-1682)

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Episodes

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01The Family Tree20141103

Donald Macleod explores Stradella's family tree, which has a number of noble connections.

Donald Macleod explores the life and music of composer Alessandro Stradella, a man whose colourful life matches the brilliance of his music.

Alessandro Stradella's life ended abruptly when he was stabbed in the street at the age of just 42. By this time he had weathered a whole series of scandals revolving around dodgy business deals, an affair with his patron's mistress and an almost fatal beating by two thugs. Posthumously these events so captured the public imagination they were reinterpreted in a popular novel and in an opera bearing Stradella's name by Friedrich von Flotow. However, dramatising his life has unfairly skewed the focus away from his musical achievements. In fact Stradella was a highly respected and successful composer. He wrote in all the genres of the period, oratorios, cantatas, theatre music, serious opera, songs, sacred music, and instrumental music - all in all amounting to over 300 compositions. His musical language was innovative and ahead of its time. He produced one of the earliest known comic operas as well as writing the first datable work scored for concerto grosso instrumentation in 1674, well before Corelli produced his famous opus 6 set.

Today Donald Macleod looks at Stradella's family tree, which has noble connections that can be traced back to the powerful Medicis in Florence and to the Papacy in Rome. It was through these roots and his father's connections that Stradella was first able to make an impression in Rome, the seat of the Pope and an important centre of musical activity.

02When In Rome20141104

Donald Macleod explores how Stradella made his mark on Roman society.

Alessandro Stradella makes his mark on Roman society, receiving commissions from all the most influential plutocratic patrons.

Stradella's life ended abruptly when he was stabbed in the street at the age of just 42. By this time he had weathered a whole series of scandals revolving around dodgy business deals, an affair with his patron's mistress and an almost fatal beating by two thugs. Posthumously these events so captured the public imagination they were reinterpreted in a popular novel and in an opera bearing Stradella's name by Friedrich von Flotow. However dramatising his life has unfairly skewed the focus away from his musical achievements. In fact Stradella was a highly respected and successful composer. He wrote in all the genres of the period, oratorios, cantatas, theatre music, serious opera, songs, sacred music, and instrumental music - all in all amounting to over 300 hundred compositions. His musical language was innovative and ahead of its time, he produced one of the earliest known comic operas as well as writing the first datable work scored for concerto grosso instrumentation in 1674, well before Corelli produced his famous Opus 6 set.

Today Donald Macleod speculates on how Stradella may have completed his musical training and the opportunities he was subsequently able to take up in Rome. It's known he was in the service of Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna, a member of one of the richest and most influential families. Able to mix in noble circles, Stradella's interaction with the best poets, writers, artists and musicians of the day resulted in a wealth of new compositions.

03Queen Christina20141105

How access to Queen Christina of Sweden's intellectual circle assisted Stradella.

Alessandro Stradella finds a creative collaborator in one of Rome's most significant cultural figures, Queen Christina of Sweden.

Stradella's life ended abruptly when he was stabbed in the street at the age of just 42. By this time he had weathered a whole series of scandals revolving around dodgy business deals, an affair with his patron's mistress and an almost fatal beating by two thugs. Posthumously these events so captured the public imagination they were reinterpreted in a popular novel and in an opera bearing Stradella's name by Friedrich von Flotow. However dramatising his life has unfairly skewed the focus away from his musical achievements. In fact Stradella was a highly respected and successful composer. He wrote in all the genres of the period, oratorios, cantatas, theatre music, serious opera, songs, sacred music, and instrumental music - all in all amounting to over 300 hundred compositions. His musical language was innovative and ahead of its time, he produced one of the earliest known comic operas as well as writing the first datable work scored for concerto grosso instrumentation in 1674, well before Corelli produced his famous Opus 6 set.

In today's programme, Donald Macleod considers the ways that access to Queen Christina's intellectual circle assisted Alessandro Stradella. It was for her that he created one of his best known secular cantatas, to a scenario she had written herself.

04Love And The Moral Mindset20141106

Donald Macleod on the events that led to Stradella's having to flee Rome and then Venice.

Misadventures in Rome force Alessandro Stradella to make a hasty move to Venice, where embroiling himself in an affair of the heart has disastrous consequences.

Stradella's life ended abruptly when he was stabbed in the street at the age of just 42. By this time he had weathered a whole series of scandals revolving around dodgy business deals, an affair with his patron's mistress and an almost fatal beating by two thugs. Posthumously these events so captured the public imagination they were reinterpreted in a popular novel and in an opera bearing Stradella's name by Friedrich von Flotow. However dramatising his life has unfairly skewed the focus away from his musical achievements. In fact Stradella was a highly respected and successful composer. He wrote in all the genres of the period, oratorios, cantatas, theatre music, serious opera, songs, sacred music, and instrumental music - all in all amounting to over 300 hundred compositions. His musical language was innovative and ahead of its time, he produced one of the earliest known comic operas as well as writing the first datable work scored for concerto grosso instrumentation in 1674, well before Corelli produced his famous Opus 6 set.

Today, Donald Macleod follows the scandalous events that led to Stradella's ostracisation from two cities. After a failed attempt at marriage broking enrages the Pope's Secretary of State, Stradella flees from Rome. Settling in Venice, it's not long before a romantic entanglement with his patron's mistress causes further problems.

Si salvi chi può

Christine Brandes, soprano

Paul O'Dette, baroque guitar

Mary Springfels, viola da gamba

Barbara Weiss, harpsichord

Crocifissione e morte di N. S. Giesù Christo

Gérard Lesne, countertenor

Il Seminario musicale (2 violins and continuo)

Ester (excerpt from Part One)

Debora Parodi, soprano (A Hebrew woman)

Francesco Lambertini, bass (Testo)

Elisa Franzetti, soprano (Speranza Celeste)

Il Concento

Luca Franco Ferrari, director

La Susanna (excerpt from Part One)

Freddo gelo... La bellezza

Martyn Hill, tenor (Judge 2)

Ulrik Cold, bass (Judge 1)

Ingrid Seifert, baroque violin (Hajo Bäss)

Jaap van ter Linden, baroque cello

Jeroen van der Linden, violone

Konrad Junghängel, theorbo

Alan Curtis, harpsichord and direction

Quando mai vi stancherete

Emma Kirkby, soprano

Alan Wilson, harpsichord.

05 LASTA Murder Mystery20141107

Leaving behind a succession of misadventures, Alessandro Stradella takes advantage of the musical riches of Genoa, but it isn't too long before his chequered past catches up with him.

Stradella's life ended abruptly when he was stabbed in the street at the age of just 42. By this time he had weathered a whole series of scandals revolving around dodgy business deals, an affair with his patron's mistress and an almost fatal beating by two thugs. Posthumously these events so captured the public imagination they were reinterpreted in a popular novel and in an opera bearing Stradella's name by Friedrich von Flotow. However dramatising his life has unfairly skewed the focus away from his musical achievements. In fact Stradella was a highly respected and successful composer. He wrote in all the genres of the period, oratorios, cantatas, theatre music, serious opera, songs, sacred music, and instrumental music - all in all amounting to over 300 hundred compositions. His musical language was innovative and ahead of its time, he produced one of the earliest known comic operas as well as writing the first datable work scored for concerto grosso instrumentation in 1674, well before Corelli produced his famous Opus 6 set.

The concluding part of Donald Macleod's survey finds Stradella making a fresh start in Genoa. Despite arriving with a somewhat tarnished reputation, the composer finds work plentiful and rewarding but then he is murdered in mysterious circumstances.

How the musical riches of Stradella's final years ended in mysterious circumstances.