15th January – Giovanni Sammartini
|Sammartini (c. 1700 – 15th January 1775) is our composer for 15th January, to mark the day of his death.Nationality: Italian
Lifespan: c. 74 years
Fame Ranking: 5
Born in Milan, Sammartini’s claim to fame is that he was one of the first composers to shape the form of the symphony as we know it today. His earliest symphonies date from the 1730s, and showed influences from the earlier Baroque period, such as using a basso continuo. Symphonies from his middle period are much less Baroque in style. He also added two horns to the orchestra which helped to create a bigger, broader sound. His late symphonies are longer, and the addition of extra wind instruments changed the timbre of the orchestra again. We see no more basso continuo, but instead a more dramatic and expressive approach which paved the way towards Romanticism in music. His symphonies were generally or two or three movements.
Much of Sammartini’s work has been lost, and several works with his name on are of dubious origin because his brother was also a composer. However, of the works which are definitely attributed to him, there are at least 67 symphonies as well as other works such as chamber music, operas and a lot of religious pieces.
Sammartini also worked as a teacher, and his most famous pupil was Gluck.
Here is an early symphony of Sammartini’s, showing the Baroque continuo style with a smaller group of instruments than you would expect for a symphony orchestra today.
Listen to more tracks by Sammartini – click the box!