Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, 1710-1736


Selected Recordings

Stabat Mater in F minor

Concerto in G major

Sonata in A major

Selected Sheet Music

Adriano in Siria


Showcase Piece

La Serva Padrona

Notes and Commentary

“To Giovanni Battista Pergolesi goes the distinction and the achievement of having been the first to establish the traditions that would govern the writing of opera buffa for more than a century. Opera buffa liked to deal with everyday people in everyday settings, involved in everyday farcical episodes, in contrast to opera seria, which favored mythological subjects, characters, and exploits.”—David Ewen, The Complete Book of Classical Music

Pergolesi was an Italian composer, violinist and organist. His opera seria, Il prigionier superbo, contained the two act buffa intermezzo, La Serva Padrona (The Servant Mistress), which became a very popular work separate from the main opera. When it was performed in Paris in 1752, it prompted the so-called Querelle des Bouffons (“quarrel of the comic actors”) between supporters of serious French opera by the likes of Jean-Baptiste Lully and Jean-Philippe Rameau and supporters of new Italian comic opera. Pergolesi was held up as a model of the Italian style during this quarrel, which divided Paris’s musical community for two years.

Pergolesi also wrote sacred music, including a Mass in F and his Magnificat in C major. It is his Stabat Mater (1736), however, for female soprano, female alto, string orchestra and basso continuo, which is his best known sacred work. While classical in scope, the opening section of the setting demonstrates Pergolesi’s mastery of the Italian baroque durezze e ligature style, characterized by numerous suspensions over a faster, conjunct bassline. The work remained popular, becoming the most frequently printed work of the 18th century, and being arranged by a number of other composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach, who used it as the basis for his cantata Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden (Root out my sins, Highest One). Pergolesi also wrote a number of secular instrumental works, including a violin sonata and a violin concerto.

He lived from January 4, 1710, to March 16, 1736, dying at age 28 from tuberculosis.—Excerpted from Wikipedia

Books and Music

Selected Books

Stabat Mater in Full Score
Dover Publications, 1997
$10.67 on Amazon


Selected Music

pergolesi1 Stabat Mater (1990), 1 CD

prtgolesi2 La Serva Padrona (1950), MP3

pergolesi3 L’Olimpiade (2011), 3-CD set

More Giovanni Battista Pergolesi music

Complete Works

Most well-known works:
Il prigionier superbo, including two act buffa intermezzo, La Serva Padrona, 1733
La conversione e morte di San Guglielmo, 1731
Lo frate ‘nnamorato, 1732,
L’Olimpiade, 1735
Il Flaminio, 1735
Mass in F
Magnificat in C major.
Stabat Mater, 1736

Works in alphabetical order (not a complete list):
Adriano in Siria
Allegro in E major
Chi non ode, e chi non vede
Il Flaminio
Flute Concerto in G major
Lo frate ‘nnamorato
Harpsichord Sonata in A major
Harpsichord Sonata in D major
Livietta e Tracollo
Maestro di musica
Organ Sonata in F major
Salve Regina a due in C minor
Salve Regina a due in F minor
Salve regina in C minor
Salve Regina in E minor
Salve regina in F minor
Segreto tormento
La serva padrona
Sinfonia for Cello and Continuo
Stabat mater
Tre giorni son che Nina
Verbum Christi di croce

Back to home page


Comments are closed.