Pietro Locatelli (1695-1764)


01The 18th-century Paganini20140331

Donald Macleod introduces Locatelli's life and work.

The Italian Baroque composer and violinist Pietro Locatelli, whose astonishing technique astounded his listeners is little known today. Yet in his time Locatelli became famous for his innovative and virtuosic playing which informed his music and challenged the musical world's view of the violin's capabilities. His most significant collection of works, published under the title 'L'arte del violino', contains some of the most fiendishly difficult violin music in the repertoire. Donald Macleod introduces a concerto from that collection plus one of Locatelli's earlier concerti grossi and a charming chamber work, perhaps written with the gentleman amateur in mind.

02Travels In Italy And Beyond20140401

Donald Macleod examines Locatelli's time in Italy as he began to establish his reputation.

During his time in Rome, Locatelli refined his very remarkable skills and he was often to be found playing in city performances, sponsored by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni. Such patrons played a vital role in establishing Locatelli's reputation, not just as a violinist but as a composer too. Donald Macleod introduces a selection of works dedicated to some of the key figures in his career, including a concerto grosso from his op.1, dedicated to another cardinal, and a light-hearted trio-sonata, whose publication was made possible thanks to an enthusiastic and rich amateur flautist.


Donald Macleod introduces music Locatelli published in his home town of Amsterdam.

At the age of 34, Locatelli gave up his international career as a virtuoso violinist and decided to settle in Amsterdam where he remained for the rest of his life. As the centre of European music publishing it proved a magnet to many composers and Locatelli, the astute businessman, took full advantage of the opportunities which presented themselves. Donald Macleod introduces some of the chamber music Locatelli published there with the ever-growing amateur market in mind, a concerto grosso from his innovative op.4 collection and another of the violin concertos from his ground-breaking magnum opus, 'L'arte del violino'.

04The Virtuoso Violinist20140403
04The Virtuoso Violinist20140403

04The Virtuoso Violinist20140403

Donald Macleod on Locatelli the violinist seen through the eyes of his contemporaries.

04The Virtuoso Violinist20140403

Locatelli seems to have made a comfortable living in Amsterdam, not just from the sale of his music but also from teaching and from selling strings and bows imported from Italy. He continued to perform, as witnessed by a young English gentleman and his tutor who provided vivid accounts of Locatelli's virtuosity. There were conflicting attitudes to Locatelli's music; in England it was rather mixed, whereas in France they welcomed his innovative style of writing. Donald Macleod introduces another of Locatelli's flute sonatas that proved so popular amongst amateur musicians across Europe and one of the violin sonatas which best demonstrates the technical wizardry for which he became renowned.

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Donald Macleod reveals some of the scurrilous comments about Locatelli's private life.

After Locatelli's death, the catalogue of the sale of his belongings revealed that he evidently made a comfortable living and his very extensive library and impressive collection of portraits, scientific and musical instruments gives an insight into his cultural life. Locatelli's interest in the classics may well have informed his decision to write the only piece of his that has a title, based on the mythological figure of Ariadne. Donald Macleod introduces this atmospheric work together with the final concerto from Locatelli's collection 'L'arte del violino' which contains one of his infamous caprices and earned the concerto its nickname 'The Harmonic Labyrinth' - easy to enter, difficult to escape.