Tomaso Albinoni: Notes and Commentary

Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni was an Italian Baroque composer. He is almost entirely known today for a piece of music he didn’t actually write: the Adagio in D Minor. The piece was mainly written by Italian musicologist Remo Giazotto, who, after Albinoni’s death, took the small bit that Albinoni wrote and turned it onto the piece that’s so well loved today.

“Giazotto came across the manuscript in a library in Dresden just after World War II. The music consisted of a bass line, a few bars of the violin part, and nothing more. Deciding that what he’d found was a church sonata, Giazotto scored the piece for organ and strings. The result is a work of solemnity and affecting simplicity, which has proved an astonishing durable favorite, almost on par with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.”—The Rough Guide to Classical Music (2001, 3rd ed.)

Albinoni wrote at least fifty operas, of which twenty-eight were produced in Venice between 1723 and 1740. Albinoni himself claimed 81 operas (naming his second-to-last opera, in the libretto, as his 80th). He is the first Italian known to employ the oboe as a solo instrument in concerti and publish such works, and indeed today he is most noted for his oboe concertos.

His instrumental music greatly attracted the attention of Johann Sebastian Bach, who wrote at least two fugues on Albinoni’s themes (Fugue on a Theme by Albinoni in A, BWV 950, Fugue on a Theme by Albinoni in B minor, BWV951) and frequently used his basses for harmony exercises for his pupils. Part of Albinoni’s work was lost in World War II with the destruction of the Dresden State Library. As a result, little is known of his life and music after the mid-1720s. He lived from June 8, 1671 to January 17, 1751.—Excerpted from Wikipedia

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