The Kennedy Center

Pietro Degli Antoni



Biography

An Italian composer and instrumentalist born in 1639, he was the brother of Giovanni Battista Degli Antoni. He spent his life in Bologna, first distinguishing himself as a cornett player with Cazzati's cappella musicale at S Petronio. Soon after joining the Accademia dei Filaschisi, he became, in 1666, a charter member of the Accademia Filarmonica. He was principal of the latter in 1676, a distinction that he enjoyed in five subsequent years: 1684, 1696, 1700, 1705 and 1708. He was maestro di cappella of three churches: S Giovanni in Monte as early as 1666 and again from 1697 until at least 1712, S Maria Maggiore from 1680 and S Stefano from 1686 to 1696.
 
In 1703 he married the famous singer Maria Maddalena Musi, known as La Mignatta.  Degli Antoni wrote a number of oratorios as well as music for two stage works, but, except for the oratorio L'innocenza depressa, which survives in a manuscript score, the printed librettos are all that remain of them. He also explored other vocal forms (concerted masses, motets and chamber cantatas), but he is most important for his contribution to the development of the sonata da camera and sonata da chiesa. His most innovative compositions, the solo sonatas of opp.4 and 5, best reflect his experience as a composer of vocal music. Throughout both collections there are movements bearing quasi-dramatic markings such as ‘Aria grave' and ‘Aria posata'. Many of the adagio movements are instrumental recitatives or ariosos. For example, in the Adagio of op.4 no.11 the violin evokes a declamatory setting through short irregular motifs which end in appoggiaturas over a sustained pedal. Another characteristic of these sonatas is the importance of the basso continuo line, which assumes a separate structural identity and often develops thematic material equally with the violin part.
Pietro Antoni