Attilio Ariosti: Notes and Commentary

Attilio Malachia Ariosti, principally noted for his work with viola d’amore and opera, was a Servite Friar and Italian composer in the Baroque style, born in Bologna. He produced more than 30 operas and oratorios, numerous cantata, and instrumental works.

In 1697, in Berlin, he wrote and collaborated in the writing of a number of stage works performed for the court. He resided as the court composer until 1703.

His first opera was performed in Venice in 1697. From 1703 to 1709 he was the General Austrian Agent for Italy, during the reign of Joseph I. After 1716 he achieved success in Paris and London. In London, he shared with Georg Frideric Handel and Giovanni Bononcini the directorship of the Royal Academy of Music, and he played the viola d’amore in an entr’acte in Handel’s Amadigi di Gaula. In 1724 he published a Collection of Cantatas, and Lessons for the Viola d’Amour, which he sold by subscription. This publication might have been the most successful sale of music by subscription in the 18th century.

He wrote 21 solo sonatas for the the viola d’amore, which is a viola with resonating or sympathetic strings (unplayed strings beneath the regular stings that resonate when the strings above them are played). These are usually called the Stockholm Sonatas, as the sole surviving source for most of them is in the Statens Musikbibliotek in Stockholm, Sweden. The Stockholm Sonatas display Ariosti’s liking for surprising harmonies, his inventive use of silence, and his wit.—Excerpted from Wikipedia

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