The Sammartini Brothers

Episodes

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01The London And Milan Sammartinis20131230

Giuseppe was described as the greatest oboe performer the world had ever known, and Giovanni as the true father of the symphony; Donald Macleod explores the lives and music of the Sammartini brothers. Both Giuseppe and Giovanni Sammartini were born in Milan, but their careers would take them on very different paths. Giuseppe, known as the London Sammartini, emigrated to England where he transformed the playing of the oboe. He also composed many concertos and sonatas that became very popular at the time. Giuseppe's final years were spent working in the household of the Prince of Wales, teaching the royal children music. Giovanni the younger brother, Il Milanese, remained predominantly in Milan employed by numerous churches. His sacred output was significant, but his most important contribution was in the composing of nearly 80 symphonies, ahead of Haydn.

Both Giuseppe and Giovanni Sammartini studied music with their father. Soon the two brothers were performing in an orchestra together, often playing for religious ceremonies such as the internment of the relics of St Gaudenzio. Giuseppe quickly became a skilled oboist, and he composed many works for this instrument including his Concerto in G minor Op 8. Giuseppe's most famous work to have survived the test of time is his Concerto in F for recorder, strings and continuo.

Giovanni became a skilled organist and composed a number of works for this instrument, including his Sonata in C major and Sonata in G major. He pursued a career in music with the church and composed many sacred works during his lifetime including his Magnificat in B flat major. Where Giovanni made his biggest contribution, though, was in the world of the symphony, including two early symphonies in C minor and F major.

02Giuseppe Sammartini Moves To London20131231

Donald Macleod follows Giuseppe Samartini's journey to London

Giuseppe was described as the greatest oboe performer the world had ever known, and Giovanni as the true father of the symphony; Donald Macleod explores the lives and music of the Sammartini brothers.

Giuseppe Sammartini decided to forge his career in England, where he arrived around 1727. His name was made known to the London public by the publication of a set of trio sonatas. Writing trio sonatas would be something Giuseppe did on and off throughout his career. Once in London, Giuseppe soon found himself developing a career as an oboe player. He'd often be required to perform a concerto or solo work between the acts of theatre performances, such as his Concerto in C major.

Giovanni Sammartini had, by the late 1720s and early 1730s, established himself as a composer of sacred works. He also ventured into other fields and, like his older brother, worked in the theatre. Giovanni composed the opera, Memet, which was successful enough to be performed a number of times after its premiere. His reputation was growing and students came to study with Giovanni, such as Gluck. His popularity was also spreading abroad and the famous composer, Vivaldi, was reported to conduct one of Sammartini's symphonies in Amsterdam.

03Giuseppe Sammartini Works for the Prince of Wales20140101

03Giuseppe Sammartini Works for the Prince of Wales20140101

03Giuseppe Sammartini Works for the Prince of Wales20140101

Donald Macleod explores Giuseppe Sammartini's new royal appointment.

Giuseppe was described as the greatest oboe performer the world had ever known, and Giovanni as the true father of the symphony; Donald Macleod explores the lives and music of the Sammartini brothers.

Giuseppe Sammartini had made quite a name for himself in London. As an oboist, he performed in theatre orchestras, in military bands and at pleasure gardens. By 1735, he was a famous both as a performer and teacher, and an advertisement arrived in the newspapers, offering a reward for Giuseppe's lost oboe reeds. It was rumoured that he made his own. Sammartini would also perform on other woodwind instruments and he composed music for these, including his Sonata in D minor for two recorders. Soon, Giuseppe Sammartini had made such an impact in London that he was appointed master of music to the children of the Prince of Wales.

Giovanni Sammartini was also making a significant impression in Italy. He taught future composers such as Gluck, conducted concerts of his own music organised by the Austrian Governor in Milan and, in 1740, auditioned singers and an organist for the Cathedral in Milan. His popularity abroad was also increasing, with regular performances in France and England. The Duke of Cumberland was particularly fond of his trio sonatas.

04The Death Of Giuseppe Sammartini20140102

Donald Macleod traces Giovanni Sammartini's involvement in the new Accademia Philharmonica.

Giuseppe was described as the greatest oboe performer the world had ever known, and Giovanni as the true father of the symphony; Donald Macleod explores the lives and music of the Sammartini brothers.

Giuseppe Sammartini established a new school of oboe playing in England and he composed many works for this instrument. He also composed a number of concertos and sonatas for other woodwind instruments such as his Flute Concerto in C major and his Sonata in F minor for recorder and basso continuo. He was both teacher and an active performer, but he died in 1750, leaving his estate to his brother Giovanni.

By the time of Giuseppe's death, his younger brother Giovanni had made a significant name for himself as a composer. Milan, where he lived, was the leading Italian city for instrumental music and Giovanni made a big impact with his symphonies. Giovanni Sammartini was also very active in other musical ways. Having given up on the world of the theatre and opera, he started to petition the authorities to establish a new orchestra: the Accademia Philharmonica.

05A Helping Hand For Mozart20140103

Donald Macloed explores Giovanni Sammartini's reputation and how the ageing composer offered support to a new generation of musicians.

Giuseppe was described as the greatest oboe performer the world had ever known, and Giovanni as the true father of the symphony; Donald Macleod explores the lives and music of the Sammartini brothers.

Giovanni Sammartini was held in high esteem. C.P.E. Bach was worried that, when his own symphonies were being performed in Milan and Padua, they just wouldn't match the quality of those composed by Sammartini. Charles Burney when touring Italy, heard music by Sammartini and also saw the composer perform. He too was particularly taken upon hearing one of Sammartini's symphonies.

Sammartini had a long association with the church and never stopped composing sacred music, such as his cantata Maria Addolorata. He also offered support to future composers such as the young Mozart. He continued composing in his final years, including his Quintet No 3 in G minor. His death in 1775 was unexpected; his diary was still full with future engagements and activities. Upon the news of his passing, Sammartini received a Papal blessing.

05A Helping Hand for Mozart20140103