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Giovanni Battista Viotti

Giovanni Viotti
G. B. Viotti: Quartet (B flat)
G. B. Viotti: Quartet (c)
G. B. Viotti: Quartet (E flat)


Giovanni Battista Viotti (born Fontanetto Po, 12 May 1755; died London, 3 March 1824) stands in the representative line of the classical Italian violin school stemming from Corelli, Tartini and other 17th century masters. He was a pupil of Pugnani with whom Viotti later formed a professional partnership embarking on an extended concert tour throughout Europe during the years 1780- 1781, with an extended stay in St Petersburg. Viotti then moved to Paris, making his debut at the Concert Spirituel on 17 March 1782. Two years later he entered the service of Marie Antoinette at Versailles and in 1785/6 became the director of the newly-formed Loge Olympique for whom Haydn was to compose his 'Paris' symphonies. His connection with Haydn was maintained when, in 1792, he fled the Revolution and established himself in London, making a successful debut there on 7 February 1793 at the Hanover Square Concert organized by Salomon. As a later critic has perceptively remarked, 'the modern orchestra was born when Viotti came to London and joined forces with Salomon in 1793'.(1) He was acting-manager of the Italian Opera at the King's Theatre for the 1794-5 season, in 1797 being appointed leader and director of the orchestra at that theatre. Of his mature playing style a review in the London Morning Chronicle dated 10 March 1794 reported that 'he gives a soul to sound. and leads the passions captive', which we may take as a guide to the performance of his own music.

Jennifer Caesar
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