Locatelli, Pietro

Pietro Antonio Locatelli, born on September 3, 1695, in the vibrant city of Bergamo, Italy, was a virtuoso violinist and composer. His remarkable talent and passion for the violin were evident from a young age. Locatelli's musical journey took him from his humble beginnings in Bergamo to the great cities of Rome, Amsterdam, and beyond.

Early Years and Influences

At a tender age, Locatelli joined the instrumental ensemble of the Bergamo Cathedral, showcasing his prodigious talent. However, it was his move to Rome in 1711 that solidified his path towards a successful career as a violinist. Rome, a hub for musical talent, offered Locatelli the opportunity to immerse himself in the vibrant musical scene of the time, with the great Arcangelo Corelli as a prominent figure. While Locatelli did not directly study with Corelli, his music undeniably inspired the young violinist.

Rome to Amsterdam: A Journey of Musical Exploration

Locatelli resided in Rome until early 1723, after which little is known about his whereabouts. However, in 1725, he was appointed as virtuoso da camera by Count Philipp von Hesse-Darmstadt in Mantua, a city ruled by the House of Habsburg. Although there is no concrete evidence of Locatelli's time in Mantua, it is possible that he briefly stayed there, leaving behind no documented trace of his presence. Subsequently, his name appears in Venice, Munich, and Berlin, suggesting a restless musical journey across Europe.

In 1729, Locatelli found himself in the bustling city of Amsterdam, which provided him with an ideal environment to compose and publish his works. Amsterdam was renowned for its thriving music scene, attracting renowned composers such as Antonio Vivaldi. Locatelli, as an "Italian music master," enjoyed the freedom to write and perform without being tied to a specific court or institution. While he did not actively participate in the city's music scene, he held private concerts in the homes of Amsterdam's elite, showcasing his virtuosic violin skills.

The Commercial Success and Legacy of Pietro Antonio Locatelli

Locatelli's time in Amsterdam allowed him to not only compose music but also establish himself as a successful musical retailer. He had the privilege of printing and distributing his compositions from his own house, where he also curated an extensive library of books from all over Europe. Locatelli's interests extended beyond music, as he explored various cultural topics, including theater, writing, and visual art. His entrepreneurial spirit, coupled with his musical genius, ensured his financial success and the widespread dissemination of his music throughout Europe.

The Violin Works of Pietro Antonio Locatelli

Locatelli's compositions primarily revolve around the violin, showcasing his mastery of the instrument. One of his most significant works is "L'Arte del Violino," Opus 3, a collection of twelve concertos for solo violin, strings, and basso continuo. Each concerto includes technically demanding capriccios, which can be interpreted as expanded cadenzas and are often performed separately from the concertos themselves. Locatelli's violin repertoire also includes sonatas, trio sonatas, concerti grossi, and flute sonatas.

Musical Influences: Corelli and Vivaldi

Arcangelo Corelli's music had a profound impact on Locatelli's early compositions, reflecting the influence of the Baroque master. However, as Locatelli matured as a composer, his style shifted towards the vibrant and expressive compositions of Antonio Vivaldi. Locatelli's ability to blend these influences resulted in a unique musical voice that captivated audiences during his lifetime.

The Enigmatic Perfectionist: Locatelli's Fear of Mistakes

Locatelli's exceptional virtuosity on the violin was often praised, with contemporaries claiming that he had never played a wrong note. However, there is an intriguing anecdote that suggests Locatelli's fear of making mistakes. It is said that he once played a wrong note when his little finger slipped and became trapped in the bridge of his instrument. This incident, though minor, highlights Locatelli's dedication to perfection and his meticulous approach to his craft.

Locatelli's Influence and Recognition in the Western World

While Locatelli's music may not be as widely recognized today, it left a lasting impact on the literary world. Patrick O'Brian's novel, "Master and Commander," features a passage that describes a fictional performance of Locatelli's C major quartet in the governor's house at Port Mahon. Interestingly, no quartets are known to have been written by Locatelli. However, this anecdote reflects the lasting impression of his music on the literary imagination.

The Collegium Musicum and Locatelli's Contribution

Locatelli's music found its way into the repertoire of the Collegium Musicum, a renowned musical organization of the time. While it is challenging to reconstruct the precise programs of the Collegium, as they were often extensive, several composers and compositions can be traced back to their performances. Locatelli's Concerto Grosso in F minor, Op. 1, No. 8, was among the pieces played by the Collegium, showcasing the recognition and popularity of his music during his lifetime.


Pietro Antonio Locatelli's life and music embody the spirit of a true master of the violin. From his humble beginnings in Bergamo to his musical journey across Europe, Locatelli left an indelible mark on the Baroque era. His compositions, particularly the renowned "L'Arte del Violino," showcase his exceptional virtuosity and innovative approach to the violin. Locatelli's legacy lives on through his music, which continues to inspire and captivate audiences to this day.

Violin Compositions of Pietro Locatelli | Animato Strings


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