Giovanni Battista Sammartini (1701-75) was born in Milan, and unlike his contemporaries, spent all his life working in his home city. He bacame the major figure in musical life in the city, and devoted himself to instrumental, chamber and sacred music, composing only three stage works making him one of those rare Italian composers who shunned the world of opera – Giovanni Sgambati in the 19th century is another such example.
Sammartini vies with Haydn for the title ‘father of the symphony’. He was a great innovator, and his symphonic works resulted from his experimentation with the concerto grosso and trio sonata forms of the baroque age. His works were widely published in all the major cities of Europe, and he was on friendly terms with Gluck who he taught from 1737-41, and Mozart who he met during the young Austrian’s visit to Milan. His influence upon composers such as Gossec, J.C Bach and Johann Stamitz was considerable.
Sadly Sammartini’s legacy has been inextricably caught up with the fate of Milan at the end of the 18th century, and much of his music was taken to Vienna and Paris after his death by invading French forces. On top of that much of it was destroyed during the Second World War. It was as recently as 1968 that serious research on his surviving manuscripts took place.
His late symphonies are superbly crafted forward looking works, eschewing attention grabbing (Mannheim) effects for graceful and complex harmonies, with elaborate rhythms.
World premiere recordings of highly influential works in the history of the symphony.
Volume 1 Sammartini Symphonies is available on Brilliant Classics 93610.
New recordings on period instruments.
Extensive booklet notes.
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.