Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi ( born January 4, 1710 in Jesi, Marche, † March 16, 1736 in Pozzuoli, near Naples, also written Pergolesi ) was an Italian composer.

  • 4.1 Stage Works
  • 4.2 Sacred Works
  • 4.3 instrumental


His first music study was Giovanni Battista Pergolesi by Francesco Santi, Kapellmeister at the cathedral in Jesi. The compounds that had his father as a surveyor to the urban nobility, Pergolesi allowed to study at the Conservatorio dei Poveri di Gesù Cristo in Naples, where he was admitted in the year 1722. His principal teachers were there Gaetano Greco and Francesco Durante. To conclude his studies the performance of spiritual cantata La conversione di San Guglielmo d' Aquitania in summer 1731 should be regarded in the monastery of San Agnello.

Immediately thereafter, Pergolesi was commissioned to compose the opera Salustia the opening of the carnival season at the Teatro San Bartolomeo. Since the place designated for the lead role castrato Nicolino ( Niccolo Grimaldi ) fell ill during the rehearsal period and on January 1, 1732 passed away, delayed the premiere and was ultimately a failure. In the same year Pergolesi Kapellmeister of Prince Ferdinando Colonna Stigliano. The performance of the comic opera Lo frate innamorato on September 28, 1732 at the Teatro dei Fiorentini brought him continued success.

After November 29, a devastating earthquake had shaken Naples, the city fathers decided, every year on December 31 at the Church of Santa Maria della Stella hold a prayer service. For these occasions probably Pergolesi's Mass in D major and most of his compositions were Vespers. The birthday of the Empress on August 28, 1733, he wrote the opera Il prigionier superbo with the listed as an interlude farce La serva padrona, which was detached from the main Opera, soon replayed everywhere and for the first piece of music theater repertoire. On February 23, 1734 Pergolesi received the appointment as deputy Kapellmeister of the Royal Domenico Sarro with the option, in the event of death Sarro to take up its successor.

After the retreat of the Austrians ( who had ruled the city since 1707) and the entry of Charles of Bourbon as Viceroy Charles III. on May 10, followed by Pergolesi the Prince of Stigliano to Rome. There he appointed a relative of the Prince, the Duke of Maddaloni Carafa, his Kapellmeister. On behalf of the Duke Pergolesi wrote for double the Mass in F Major, which was performed on May 16, 1734 the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina.

Back in Naples, came on the occasion of the birthday of the Queen of Spain on October 25, 1734 Pergolesi's Adriano in Siria new opera at the Teatro San Bartolomeo out. Pergolesi had to write the main role according to the wishes of the star castrato Caffarelli ( Gaetano Majorano ), the ersang is a great personal success, while the piece as a whole fell through. Probably because of the impression its F major Mass had left in Rome, Pergolesi was commissioned for the opera L' Olimpiade who had in January 1735 the Teatro Tordinona premiere. Contemporary reports, the work was rejected; a dissatisfied listener to have the composer threw an orange at the head (so it says André Ernest Modeste Grétry in his memoirs, citing witnesses ).

A big success brought Pergolesi comic opera Il Flaminio in autumn 1735 at the Teatro dei Fiorentini in Naples. To judge from a remark in the libretto, he had previously been appointed organist of the Royal Chapel in Naples. The work on the cantata Il tempo felice for the wedding of Prince Raimondo di San Severo in December 1735 had to cancel because of illness Pergolesi; it was completed by Nicola Sabatino. Pergolesi retired to rest in the seaside town of Pozzuoli, near Naples. There was, presumably on behalf of the " confraternita dei Cavalieri di San Luigi di Palazzo ", the Stabat Mater, considered to be his last completed composition. Pergolesi died on March 16, 1736 of tuberculosis and was buried on March 17 in the Franciscan monastery in Pozzuoli.


In the five years that were granted to him after leaving the Conservatoire creative period, Pergolesi created a body of work that has occupied posterity as hardly any other Italian composers of the 18th century (except Antonio Vivaldi ). The early death were similar in the case of Mozart's rise to enthusiastic veneration and sentimental transfiguration ( Vincenzo Bellini called him the " angelico maestro " ), behind which the real historical figure almost disappeared. In addition, the onset immediately after the demise of fame some publishers prompted to use the tension of the now famous name to marketing works of lesser known composers. The list of Pergolesi mistakenly attributed to or deliberately foisted works is therefore at least as long as that of his authentic compositions.


Spurious instrumental works

The 1740 in The Hague anonymously published six Concerti armonici were attributed, among many other composers Pergolesi; only in 1963 was able to prove the Dutch musicologist Albert Dunning, that they come from Count Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer, who worked as a diplomat, inter alia, in Paris and wanted to remain anonymous. The 1780 printed in London under Pergolesi's name 12 trio sonatas, from which Igor Stravinsky cited several topics in his ballet Pulcinella ( in faith, if it were original works of Pergolesi ), could now doubt Domenico Gallo be attributed. They probably originated in the 1750s. Both the Concerti armonici and the trio sonatas were therefore eligible for assessment Pergolesi, as its major works in the field of instrumental music they were no longer considered. This does not diminish the absolute value of these musical compositions, but their importance into perspective as a harbinger of early classical music, as they were considered long. Especially the trio sonatas are as music of the mid-century, not as forward-looking, as if they had been twenty years earlier during his lifetime Pergolesi it.

Church Music

Pergolesi's sacred compositions exhibit typical for the Italian church music of his time connecting of contrapuntal manner in the choruses and operatic melody on the solo passages. This tendency, liturgical texts set to music as if it were opera libretti spiritual content is encountered especially in the 19th century and especially in German-speaking criticism. Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, his last work, was in the 18th century, the most frequently printed piece of music and has undergone numerous treatments ( including in 1781 a translation of Christoph Martin Wieland) Johann Sebastian Bach as it adapted by backing a new text by Psalm 51 ( " blotted, Highest, my sins ", BWV 1083 ) for the Protestant services, Georg Joseph Vogler analyzed and" improved " the work in its Kurpfälzische Tonschule ( 1778-81 ), and Antonio Salieri and Süssmayr created end of the 18th century for the Viennese court chapel a rich instrumented version with four-part choir, which has been revised in 1843 by Otto Nicolai.

The original version for two solo voices ( soprano and alto ), strings and basso continuo has re-enforced only during the course of the " Early Music " movement.


The serious operas of Pergolesi generally show the typical characteristics of Italian opera seria. Especially in L' Olimpiade falls on the quality of melodic invention that gives stronger than usual time, the emotions of the protagonists of an individual that goes beyond standardized phrases expression. This unconventional text interpretation, coupled with the widespread abandonment of vocal virtuosity is likely to have been responsible also for the failure at the premiere as for the esteem in which soon enjoyed the work afterwards.

As was customary in Naples, Pergolesi composed serene interludes for his serious operas, which were given between the acts of the principal opera and become independent quickly. La serva padrona thought " The maid as mistress ", originally as a stopgap for the opera Il prigionier superbo, was next to a series of similar works by different composers to the repertoire of an Italian migrant opera troupe has performed in Paris in 1752. The performance on August 1, 1752 drove for some time continuing discussion about the primacy of French and Italian music to the extreme and led to a fierce debate that has gone down as Buffonistenstreit ( querelle of bouffons ) in the story.

In addition to the brief interludes Pergolesi wrote two full-length comic operas, Lo frate innamorato and Il Flaminio, representing a typical Naples variety of early opera buffa. The social status of the acting figures is characterized therein by different levels of language. The persons upscale object use the default language that servant characters speak dialect. The normally fit with the musical vocabulary: The notables are as parti series with the stylistic devices of opera seria, including extensive coloratura arias drawn, the other as a parti buffe with the opera buffa, and therefore popular song forms and rapid Parlando. Again, Pergolesi shows as a musical dramatist often independent of the conventions of his time. So is exaggerated, for example, the bravura singing to caricature to make vanity and snobbery of a person ridiculous, or used simple strophic song forms expressed very serious feelings. The boundaries between " high " and " low " level appear so at least on a musical level is partially blurred, the people drawing developed from the Type of character comedy.

Apart from the complete operas numerous individual arias have survived, many with uncertain attribution. Of the solo cantatas Orfeo enjoys special appreciation as an example of Pergolesi's lyrical and expressive style.

List of works (selection)

Stage Works

  • San Guglielmo duca d' Aquitania (1731 )
  • Salustia (1731 )
  • Lo frate ' nnamorato ( 1732)
  • Il prigionier superbo ( opera seria ) contained as an intermezzo two comedy acts ( opera buffa ) La serva padrona " The Servant as Mistress " ( 1733)
  • Adriano in Siria (1734 )
  • Il Flaminio ( 1735)
  • Il tempo felice (1735 ) ( Wedding Serenade )
  • Livietta e Tracollo
  • L' Olimpiade ( 1735)
  • Orfeo

Sacred Works

  • Mass for two choirs
  • Mass in F
  • Psalm Dixit Dominus
  • Psalm Laudate et Confitebor
  • Laudate Pueri Dominum Psalm for soprano, five-voice choir, oboe, trumpet, horn, strings and basso continuo
  • Salve Regina
  • La morte di San Giuseppe
  • In the motet hoc quam decora
  • Stabat Mater in F minor for soprano, alto, strings and basso continuo ( 1736)
  • Vespro della Beata Vergine for soloists, four -part choir and orchestra
  • September verba a Christo in cruce mori duck prolata ( The Seven Last Words of Christ dying on the cross because of new research attributed to Pergolesi )


  • Sinfonia in F major for 2 oboes, 2 horns, strings and basso continuo
  • Concerto in B flat Major for Violin, Strings and Basso continuo
  • Sinfonia ( Sonata ) in F major for cello and basso continuo
  • Two Sonatas for Harpsichord
  • Concerto in G major. Flute, chamber orchestra
  • Concerto in D major, flute, chamber orchestra


  • His Stabat mater was one of the most popular works of the 18th century.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach worked Stabat mater motet blotted, Most High, my sins (BWV 1083) by. The viola, which is largely parallel in the original with the bass on will find a new, obligatory voice.
  • 1752: After a very successful performance of Pergolesi's La Serva padrona interlude in Paris, there were disputes between supporters of serious French Tragédie lyrique and the Italian opera buffa ( " Querelle des bouffons ").
  • Antonio Salieri and Süssmayr created end of the 18th century a new version of the Stabat Mater for soprano, alto, four -part chorus and orchestra, which was again revised in 1831 by Ignaz von Seyfried.
  • The ballet La Pulcinella by Igor Stravinsky is made up partly attributed to Pergolesi tunes, some writes musicology now doubt the deceased around 1775 composer Domenico Gallo.