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Gasparo Visconti

Concerto for violin in F major

Knowledge of the life and career of the virtuoso violinist and composer Gasparo Visconti, born in Cremona in 1683, remains seriously incomplete. Referred to occasionally as 'Gasparini' (a name which has caused him to be confused with Francesco Gasparini (1668- 1727), the celebrated opera composer and teacher), he is a noble-born example of a dilettante, like Albinoni and the Marcello brothers, who pursued a musical career not, presumably, out of economic necessity but for its artistic delights. Before residing in London from 1702 to 1705, where he regularly performed as a solo violinist, he had been, according to his own testimony, a pupil of Arcangelo Corelli for five years. The Corellian manner of his first published music, the six violin sonatas of Op. 1 (Amsterdam, 1703), appears to bear out the truth of that claim. Visconti's where-abouts after 1705 are uncertain, though it is clear that he returned to his native city by 1713, the year his daughter was born. Giuseppe Tartini visited him in Cremona at about that time and would later speak highly of his talent.
Almost nothing is known of the rest of Visconti's life, and the date of his death remains a mystery. Since he was the teacher of the violinist-composer Carlo Zuccari (1704- 92), we might assume that he continued to be active in Cremona during the late 1710s and early 1720s, prior to Zuccari's departure for Vienna in 1723. That six of his concertos were published c1730 together with concertos by Tartini is perhaps an indication that he was then recently deceased: it is difficult to imagine a reason, other than a desire to honour someone who could no longer promote himself, why Tartini would have taken the highly unusual step of converting his own opera prima into an anthology of two composers' work.

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