The Kennedy Center

Count Unico Wilhelm von Wassenar



Biography

Dutch composer and statesman Count Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer was born into one of the oldest and most influential families of the Dutch nobility in 1692.  He probably studied music with the organist, harpsichordist, composer and theorist Quirinus van Blankenburg in The Hague. In 1710 he matriculated in the University of Leiden and after completing his studies embarked on a grand tour that took him to England, Germany, France and probably Italy between 1714 and 1718. He was a close friend of Count Willem Bentinck, who also had a keen interest in music, and with him organized concerts that took place alternately in their homes in The Hague. At these concerts, Carlo Ricciotti, known as Bacciccia, played first violin. It was for these gatherings, between 1725 and 1740, that van Wassenaer wrote his Concerti armonici, published in 1740 in The Hague. 
 
The three sonatas for recorder and continuo follow the Corelli model, while the Concerti armonici reveal a strong personal stamp.
 
As ambassador extraordinary of the General States, van Wassenaer made diplomatic missions to France (in 1744 and 1746) and Cologne. Louis XV's court heard the music he wrote in France, and during his stay there he also composed a motet, Nunc dimittis. The French praised him as a ‘grand compositeur: il accompagne fort bien' and considered his music ‘presque aussi bonne que celle de Corelli'.
 
He died on November 6, 1766, and was buried in the St Jacobskerk in The Hague
 
Sources:
New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition
Oxford Music Online
 
Count Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer