The Composer Tomaso Albinoni
Tomaso Albinoni (Italy, 1671–1751) was a Baroque composer. While famous in his day as an opera composer, he is mainly remembered today for his concertos, some of which are regularly recorded.
Childhood and Youth of Albinoni
Albinoni’s father Antonio Albinoni was a wealthy paper
merchant in Venice, where Tomaso Albinoni was born. Relatively little is known
about him. He studied violin and singing. At the age of 23, in 1694 he
dedicated his Opus 1 to the fellow-Venetian, Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni who was
an important patron in Rome of other composers, such as Arcangelo Corelli.
Albinoni’s first opera, Zenobia, regina de Palmireni, was produced in Venice in 1694. Albinoni achieved his early fame as an opera composer at many cities in Italy, including Venice, Genoa, Bologna, Mantua, Udine, Piacenza, and Naples. He wrote at least fifty operas of which twenty-eight were produced in Venice between 1723 and 1740. However, most of his operatic works have been lost because they were not published during his lifetime.
In spite of his enormous output of operas, today he is most noted for his instrumental music, especially his oboe concertos. Nine collections of instrumental works were published during his lifetime. In 1701 he wrote his hugely popular suites Opus 3, and dedicated that collection to Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Albinoni composed 99 sonatas, 59 concertos and 9 sinfonias. His instrumental music greatly attracted the attention of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), who wrote at least two fugues on Albinoni's themes (Fugue in A major on a theme by Tomaso Albinoni, BWV 950, Fugue in B minor on a theme by Tomaso Albinoni, BWV 951). In his lifetime Albinoni’s works were favorably compared with those of Corelli and Vivaldi. Part of Albinoni's work was lost in World War II with the destruction of the Dresden State Library.
Albinoni married in 1705. Around 1740, a collection of Albinoni's violin sonatas was published in France as a posthumous work, and scholars long presumed that meant that Albinoni had died by that time. However, it appears he lived on in Venice in obscurity; a record from the parish of San Barnaba indicates Tomaso Albinoni died in Venice in 1751, of diabetes mellitus.