The Kennedy Center

Niccolò Jommelli


Niccolò Jommelli
Italian composer wrote some of the most noteworthy operas of the mid-eighteenth century.  Using a blend of Italian, German, and French style.
Niccolò Jommelli was born in Aversa, Italy on September 10, 1714.  His parents were Francesco Antonio Jommelli and Margarita Cristiano.  His father was a prosperous linen merchant.  His first musical training was at the cathedral choir of Aversa at the age of 11 under Canon Muzzillo.
From 1725 to 1728 he studied at the Conservatorio Sant’ Onofrio in Naples, with teacher Ignazio Prota and Francesco Feo and Tommaso Prota.  After three years he transferred to study at the Conservatorio Pietà dei Turchini, with teachers Niccolò Fago, Don Giacomo Sarcuni and Andrea Basso as a singer.  After completing his studies he began work on two opere buffe, his first attempt at writing an opera, was L’errore amorosa, its début was in Naples in 1737 and it was followed by his first serious opera was composed in 1740, Ricinero re di Goti
In 1741 he moved to Bologna to study with Giovanni Battista Martini, Amadeus Mozart teacher of thirty years later.  He had much success in Italy, he performed in Bologna, Venice, Ferrara, and Padua and other cities.  In 1741 he moved to Bologna here he met Padre Martini and studied counterpoint.  He was also elected to membership in the Accademia filarmonica in Bologna.
Composer Johann Adolf Hasse recommended him for a position as musical director at the Ospedale degli Incurabili in Venice, an orphanage for girls that focused it musical training on sacred music.  1747, he left Venice for Rome, where he wrote his first classical ‘masterpieces’ Didone abbandonata.  This success helped him obtain the job as maestro di cappella at St. Peter’s Basilica. 
He spent 1749-1750 in Vienna, where he début of his opere serie, Achille in Sciro and Didone abbandonata.  In 1754 he was called to Stuttgart, where he remained as court opera composer until 1768.  He composed many of his finest operas for the courts Ludwigsburg Palace, Tetonte, in 1768 and also contributed operas for the court theater of José I of Portugal.
His wife died at the end of July 1769, after a lengthy illness.  Overworked and suffering from gout, he suffered a stroke in 1771 causing him to become paralysis but he continued to work.  In 1774 he completed his final opera seria, Il trionfo di Clelia, two months before his death in Naples.
Niccolò Jommelli