Pietro Locatelli

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Pietro Locatelli approx. 1733
mezzotint by Cornelis Troost (1696–1750)

Pietro Antonio Locatelli (born September 3, 1695 in Bergamo , † March 30, 1764 in Amsterdam ) was an Italian violinist and composer .



Little is known about Locatelli's childhood. In his early youth he was the third violinist with the title virtuoso in the cappella musicale of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo. His first violin teachers were probably Ludovico Ferronati and Carlo Antonio Marino , both members of the band and recognized musicians. The maestro di Cappella , Francesco Ballarotti (1660–1712), may have taught him composition . In autumn 1711 the Bergamasque authorities released him on his request with the remark that he was going "con bona Ligenza [...] a Roma per aprofitare nella sua professione".


From autumn 1711 Locatelli studied in Rome , probably with Giuseppe Valentini , perhaps briefly with Arcangelo Corelli , who died in January 1713. A letter from Locatelli dated March 17, 1714 to his "Carissimo signor Padre" in Bergamo proves that Locatelli was employed at the time in the compita accademia di varj instrumenti , the house chapel of Prince Michelangelo I. Caetani (1685-1759), in which Valentini also worked as Suonator di Violino, e Compositore di Musica from 1710 at the latest . Between 1716 and 1722 Locatelli was also a member of the Congregazione generale dei musici di S. Cecilia and was thus patronized by the noble prelate and later Cardinal Camillo Cybo . In addition, there is evidence that Locatelli performed auxiliary services for other Roman noble houses, for example often for Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni in the Church of San Lorenzo in Damaso - last attested on February 7, 1723.

Locatelli's debut as a composer fell during his Roman period. In 1721 his XII Concerti grossi op.1, dedicated to MONSIGNORE / D. CAMILLO CYBO / DE DUCHI DI MASSA, È CARRARA & / PATRIARCA DI CONSTANTINOPOLI , were published in Amsterdam .

Travels through Italy and Germany

From 1723 to 1728 Locatelli toured Italy and Germany . Only Mantua , Venice , Munich , Dresden , Berlin , Frankfurt am Main and Kassel are known as stations. Most of his works, written for concert use and later published in Amsterdam, especially the violin concertos including the Capricci , probably date from this period of artist trips. Your lecture could establish his fame. It is not known whether that was the case; for there were hardly any reports of his appearances that could prove how he got his reputation as a highly virtuoso violinist.

Locatelli's work at the court of the regent of Mantua, Landgrave Philipp von Hessen-Darmstadt , is guaranteed by a document from 1725 in which the Landgrave referred to Locatelli as "Nostro Virtuoso". How often and in what capacity Locatelli performed as a musician at the Mantuan court cannot be proven.

It is similar with Venice. Locatelli was certainly there, but in this case too neither the exact time nor anything about his activities there is known.

There is only one note of Locatelli's visit to Munich: On June 26, 1727, “the foreign virtuoso Locatelli” was paid twelve double gold gulden for a performance by the Elector's “Directeur de la Music” .

Almost a year later, in May 1728, Locatelli made a guest appearance at the Prussian court in Berlin. He probably came from Dresden to Potsdam together with August the Strong and his escort of about 500 people - including Johann Georg Pisendel , Johann Joachim Quantz and Silvius Leopold Weiss . A report on Locatelli's appearance before King Friedrich Wilhelm I has anecdotal features and describes Locatelli as a self-confident and vain musician in sumptuous, diamond-adorned clothing. The aristocratic audience is said to have preferred Johann Gottlieb Graun's violin to the Locatellis.

An entry by Locatelli in the register of a wealthy autograph collector documents that Locatelli was in Frankfurt am Main on October 20, 1728. The entry contains a miniature version of the Andante of Sonata III from Opus 2 for a keyboard instrument.

The last known stop of the travel years was Kassel. Locatelli received the very high remuneration of 80 Reichstalers on December 7th, 1728 because of the “done waiting” at the court of Landgrave Karl von Hessen-Kassel . The organist Jacob Wilhelm Lustig reported on this performance in 1786. Locatelli got out of his violin "cawing great difficulties" in order to "astonish the audience."


Memorial plaque Prinsengracht 506, Amsterdam

In 1729 Locatelli moved to Amsterdam, where he settled down and worked until the end of his life. He composed little, gave violin lessons to amateurs and edited his operas 1 to 9 and works by other musicians. We know from an exchange of letters between Locatelli and Giovanni Battista Martini that he made Martinis op. 2 ready for printing. His little-documented public and semi-public appearances were only available to music lovers, but not to professional musicians. “[...] he is so afraid of People Learning from him, that He won't admit a Professed Musician into his Concert”, wrote an Englishman who heard him in 1741. Wealthy music lovers enabled the virtuoso, who is unsurpassed in Amsterdam, to lead an above-average well-off life. This class of society of wealthy merchants and city officials formed a new patronage . Unlike the European nobility, these citizens were not out to create a splendid, representative court life and to employ musicians on a permanent basis. Nor did they ask for new compositions that would surpass each other in spectacular fashion, but contented themselves with the well-known, for example with the relatively small œuvre of Locatelli, in whose performances they participated as enthusiastic amateurs. In the salon life of the upper urban bourgeoisie, Locatelli was a recognized, admired and promoted figure as a virtuoso and composer. In 1741 he set up a business selling strings in his house. In 1742, an estimate of personal taxes put his income at 1500 guilders a year. It was the highest income of any Amsterdam musician. It has not yet been possible to explain why there were no reports from lexigraphers, listeners or local and international music journalists about him from 1744 when he published Op. 8 to 1762 when he published Op. 9.

Locatelli died on March 30, 1764 in his house on Prinsengracht .

The estate

The official rebate - Inventory Locatelli completes the picture that only hint at the few documents about his life. A library of over a thousand titles shows Locatelli's interest in literature and science . There are also ornithological , theological , church history , political , geographical , art theoretical and mathematical works . The music theory literature goes back to the 16th century. From Dante onwards , all important literary authors are represented with complete editions. A complete edition of Corelli's works stands out from the many printed and unbound music . A large collection of pictures, mainly by Dutch, Italian and French masters, testify to Locatelli's expertise in this area as well. Overall, Locatelli's estate reflects a man of extensive intellectual education. All of the above, including his instruments and much more, was finally auctioned in August 1765.


When Locatelli turned to Amsterdam in 1729, he found the center of European music publishing there. He brought out his operas 2 to 6, 8 and 9 as well as a new edition of op. 1 in Amsterdam, and op. 7 in neighboring Leiden . He personally took great care to ensure that everything was error-free. The large- occupied works he gave different publishers, the smaller occupied edited and drove himself.

Not only op. 1 came from earlier times, but also op. 3, and this can be assumed for at least parts of operas 2 and 4 to 8. Locatelli was able to acquire a printing privilege in Amsterdam , which protected Opera 1 to 8 in Holland and West Friesland, which were published there or in Leiden, from unauthorized reprints and prevented imports of reprints. In the application for this privilege, he referred to himself as "Italiaanisch Muziekmeester woonende te Amsterdam". One condition of this protection was that Locatelli gave a free copy of each work to the Leiden University Library. This means that first prints have been preserved to this day. Op. 9, on the other hand, which was published after the extension period of this legal protection had expired, has been lost.

Locatelli's works can be roughly divided into three categories:

  • Works for your own performance as a virtuoso
  • representative works for larger ensembles
  • Chamber music and small-scale works for making music in small groups
Comparison of
Locatelli op.3, Capriccio 7 and
Paganini op.1, Capriccio 1
“Trillo del Diavolo” from op. 3, Capriccio 16

The virtuoso works include the violin concertos op. 3 with the accompanying capricci and the violin sonatas op. 6 with a capriccio. Both works, but above all Op. 3, spread Locatelli's fame as the ultimate standard-setting virtuoso throughout Europe - including through pirated prints, reprints and copies. The Capricci were after his death as important works for the "drill" but not for "Produce", d. That is, they served professional musicians mainly as study and practice pieces, but rarely as performance pieces. Locatelli's achievements also reached Niccolò Paganini, probably more through the French violinist school than through Italian tradition . His Capriccio Op. 1, No. 1 shows a clear similarity with Locatelli's Capriccio No. 7.

Locatelli's virtuosity is reflected in the Capricci , which is characterized by playing in the highest registers, double stops, chordal playing and arpeggios in wide stops and with an overstretched left hand, through harmonics , trills in two-part playing (Trillo del Diavolo) and Double trills as well as diverse line types and variable bowing.

Locatelli's concertos op. 1 and op. 7 as well as those from op. 4 are clearly based on Corelli's op. 6. With these works, baroque ensemble art entered a mannerist late phase. The Introduttioni teatrali op. 4 follow the type of the Neapolitan opera symphony .

The flute sonatas op. 2, the trio sonatas op.5 as well as the violin sonatas and trio sonatas op.8 served the musical world of the Amsterdam citizens in their pleasing tone and, with their sometimes already gallant habitus, corresponded to the latest developments in musical taste at the time.


  • Opus 1: XII Concerti grossi à Quatro è à Cinque . Amsterdam 1721
  • Opus 2: XII Sonata à Flauto traversiere solo è Basso . Amsterdam 1732
  • Opus 3: L'Arte del Violino; XII Concerti Cioè, violino solo, con XXIV Capricci ad libitum . Amsterdam 1733
  • Opus 4: VI Introduttioni teatrali è VI Concerti . Amsterdam 1735
  • Opus 5: VI Sonata à Trè . (Amsterdam 1736)
  • Opus 6: XII Sonata à Violino solo è Basso da Camera . Amsterdam 1737
  • Opus 7: VI Concerti à quattro . Leiden 1741
  • Opus 8: X Sonata, VI à Violino solo è Basso è IV à Trè . Amsterdam 1744
  • Opus 9: VI Concerti a quattro . Amsterdam 1762
  • Opera without opus number:
    • Sonata in G minor for violin and bc.
    • Sinfonia [...] composta per l'esequie della sua Donna che si celebrarono in Roma in F minor for 2 violins, viola and bc.
    • Concerto in A major for violin, 2 violins, viola and bc.
    • Concerto in E major for violin, 2 violins, viola and bc.
  • Opera dubia (dubious works): violin concertos, symphonies, trio sonatas, flute duets, violin sonatas, an oboe sonata, a capriccio in E for violin alone.
  • Several other works from different genres have been lost.


Web links

Commons : Pietro Locatelli  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Albert Dunning , Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 22
  2. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 26
  3. "with a good certificate [...] to Rome, in order (there) to benefit from it in his profession."
  4. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, pp. 26-27
  5. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 38 ff.
  6. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 48 f.
  7. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 209
  8. ^ Fulvia Morabito: Pietro Antonio Locatelli . In MGG Second Edition, Person Part, Volume 11, Kassel et altera 2004, column 357
  9. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 56 f.
  10. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 58
  11. Albert Dunning (Ed.): Pietro Antonio Locatelli, Catalogo tematico, lettere, documenti & iconografia (= supplement volume of the Critical Complete Edition ), Mainz 2001, p. 7.
  12. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 103
  13. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, pp. 104-107
  14. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 107
  15. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 109 f.
  16. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 111
  17. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, pp. 111-116
  18. ^ Fulvia Morabito: Pietro Antonio Locatelli . In MGG Second Edition, Person Part, Volume 11, Kassel et altera 2004, column 358
  19. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 116 f.
  20. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 118 f.
  21. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, pp. 283-304
  22. From a letter from Benjamin Tate dated April 11, 1741. In: Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 204. German: “[...] he is so afraid that people will learn from him that he will not learn from anyone professional musicians are allowed access to his concert. "
  23. Locatelli's concern that someone might adopt his style of play was right. For example, Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst followed his role model Niccolò Paganini, heard him several times and then played the pieces in Paganini's manner from memory.
  24. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 315
  25. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 310 and 320 f.
  26. a b Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 306
  27. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, pp. 325 ff.
  28. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume II, pp. 141-195
  29. German: "Italian music master, living in Amsterdam"
  30. ^ Arend Koole: Pietro Antonio Locatelli. In: Music in the past and present . First edition, Volume 8, Kassel et altera 1960, column 1076
  31. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 358
  32. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 178
  33. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, pp. 172 ff., 180 ff., 186-189, 304
  34. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, pp. 134-146, 304
  35. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, p. 233 ff.
  36. Albert Dunning, Buren 1981, Volume I, pp. 207, 210 and 229
  37. Probably his most important work, a collection of 12 violin concertos containing 24 technically demanding “Capricci” (written solo cadenzas )
  38. ^ Trio sonatas, dedicated to the Amsterdam City Secretary M. Leveston, one of his students and patrons
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on June 25, 2009 .