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Bononcini, Giovanni
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Italian family of musicians. Giovanni Maria (Born; Montecorone, bap. 23 Sept 1642; Died; Modena, 18 Nov 1678), a violinist for the Dowager Duchess Laura d'Este, was maestro di cappella at Modena Cathedral from 1673. He wrote mainly instrumental works (nine sets of sonatas and dance movements, 1666-78) but latterly turned to vocal genres, composing a chamber opera, madrigals and two sets of solo cantatas. His treatise Musico prattico (1673) was widely influential. His sonatas, among the finest of the late 17th-century Modenese school, show clearly his contrapuntal skill; the sonate da camera, showing both French and Italian features, were probably among the last to be used for dancing.

His son Giovanni (Born; Modena, 18 July 1670; Died; Vienna, 9 July 1747), composer and cellist, worked mainly at Bologna until 1691, publishing several instrumental collections, four masses and ten chamber duets (1691). From Circa; 1692 to 1696 he served the Colonna family in Rome, where he wrote stage works including the highly successful Il trionfo di Camilla (1696, Naples). At the Viennese court, 1698-1712, he presented Circa; 20 stage works; by 1706 his operas and cantatas were popular in Paris, London and elsewhere. After serving the Viennese ambassador at Rome, 1714-19, he went to London as a composer for the Royal Academy of Music, where his operas were extremely successful (more so than Handel's). In 1724-31 he was employed by the Duchess of Marlborough; he later spent time in Paris and Lisbon before returning to Vienna. His output was immense, including over 60 stage works (mostly operas), over 250 solo cantatas, and sacred pieces. Except in works such as the contrapuntal early chamber duets his idiom is simple and shows galant features; his arias, though praised for their grace and expressiveness, seldom achieve the dramatic vigour or depth of Handel's.

His brother Antonio Maria (Born; Modena, 18 June 1677; Died; there, 8 July 1726), composer and cellist, worked with him in Bologna, Rome and Vienna, where in 1705-11 he wrote dramatic works as Kapellmeister to the emperor's brother Charles. Returning to Italy in 1713, he lived mainly in Modena, where he became maestro di cappella in 1721. His compositions, including some 20 stage works, 40 solo cantatas and several sacred works, are more sophisticated than Giovanni's in texture and harmony but were less successful.

Their half-brother Giovanni Maria (1678-1753), a cellist at Modena and later a violinist in Rome, composed vocal works.

Works by Giovanni Bononcini (1670-1747):

Dramatic music: over 40 operas, serenatas incl. Il trionfo di Camilla (1696); oratorios

Vocal music: Circa; 250 solo cantatas; 12 cantatas, 2 vv; 4 masses; Te Deum (1741)

Instrumental music: Circa; 90 sinfonias, concs., trio sonatas, solo sonatas

© Groves Dictionaries, MacMillan Publishers Limited, UK

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