The Kennedy Center

Francesco Durante



Biography

Francesco Durante was a highly respected composer and teacher during the first half of the 18 th century in Naples. He was known for his sacred music and his works became examples of "good composition" used for teaching. His compositions were notable for its resourcefulness of styles and practices and originality.

Durante was born in Frattamaggiore, Italy on March 31, 1684. He was the seventh child of eleven children. His musical training was originally provided by his uncle, Don Angelo Durante, who was primo maestro at the Neapolitan Conservatorio de S Onofrio a Capuana, and by the violinist, Gaetano Francone.

Durante's first known composition, called Prodigii della divina misericordia verso I divoti del glorioso S Antonio di Padova, was performed in 1705. In 1710 he was in Naples, teaching at his uncle's old institution of the Conservatorio di S Onofrio a Capuana , but he left there in January 1711. In 1718, Durante's name is entered in the register of the masters and professors at the Congregatione e Accademia di S Cecilia in Rome.

Because Durante concentrated on sacred music rather than the opera favored by other Neapolitan composers, this may indicate a Roman influence. Together with Alessandro Scarlatti, Durante is considered one of the founding fathers of the Neapolitan school. His musical compositions were mainly religious, harpsichord music, and quartet concertos.

Durante's sacred drama, La cerva assetata avero l'anima nelle fiamme premiered in Naples in February 1719. Durante was primo maestro of the Conservatorio delle Poveri de Gesu Cristo in Naples from 1728 to 1739. Also at this time he contributed to the choruses of Duke Annibale Marchesi's Tragedie cristiane together with other composers. Durante was elected primo maestro, Conservatorio della S Matria di Loreto in 1742 and such composers as Anfossi, Fenaroli, Guglielmi, Sacchini, Speranza and Traetta received their training under his guidance. In 1745 Durante was appointed primo maestro of the Conservatorio di S Onofrio a Capuana. Here, he was responsible for training of Nicolo Piccini, who came to be regarded by Durante more like a son than a pupil.

Durante married Anna Furano of Naplesin 1744, following the death of his first wife in 1741. In 1747 he married 22 year old Angela Anna Carmina Giacobbe, after the death of his second wife. Francesco Durante died in Naples on September 30, 1755 at the age of 71.
Francesco Durante

Compositions

  • Danza, danza, fanciulla gentile