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Giovanni Simone Mayr was born in Mendorf, a small village not far from Ingolstadt in Bavaria, on 14 June 1763. Ever ambitious to study in Italy, he travelled to Bergamo and on to Venice. He is particularly remembered for Medea in Corinto (Naples, 1813), but many of his works enjoyed great success and were widely heard in their day. In 1803 he was appointed maestro di cappella of S. Maria Maggiore, the great Romanesque basilica of Bergamo, a position which gave him a home-base and a stability enjoyed by few composers at the time. It was in Bergamo that he also became famous as a teacher, founding in 1806 his celebrated lezioni caritatevoli or ‘charitable lessons’, which were designed to train the sons of indigent parents as choirboys. His most famous pupil was Gaetano Donizetti. He was one of several composers credited with the invention of the so-called Rossinian crescendo. He is also believed to have been the first to introduce the harp and the cor anglais among the instruments of the Italian operatic orchestra. Believing that ‘the simplest means are always the best’, he concentrated on purity of melody, and on choosing instruments, especially solo instruments, for their timbre and colour. Consequently one has to listen ‘inwardly’ to his music: to harmonies, to instrumental colours and textures, to the unfolding of melodies, to the expression of words and emotions. As Louis Spohr remarked, Mayr has, ‘if not so much imagination as Rossini, yet, certainly, more knowledge and aesthetic feeling’.
The introduction in English, French, Italian and German and accompanying booklet notes are by Jeremy Commons.
Johann Simon Mayr: Elisa: Overture
Johann Simon Mayr: Ginevra di Scozia
Ginevra di Scozia, Act I: Duet: Vieni: cola t'attendo
Ginevra di Scozia, Act II: Duet: Per pieta, deh! non lasciarmi
Johann Simon Mayr: L'amor coniugale
L'amor coniugale: Aria: Rendi il consorte amato
Johann Simon Mayr: Adelasia e Aleramo
Adelasia e Aleramo, Act I: Storm, Scene: Dove salvarmi? … Oh Dio! - Trio: Ah! Ch'io fra voi amato
Johann Simon Mayr: Elena
Elena: Aria: Ah! Se mirar potessi
Johann Simon Mayr: Cora
Cora: Quintet: Sempre uniti insiem saremo
Johann Simon Mayr: Alfredo il grande: Romanza: Ov'e la bella vergine?
Alfredo il grande: Romanza: Ov'e la bella vergine?