Viotti, Giovanni Battista

Giovanni Battista Viotti, born in Italy on May 12, 1755, was a renowned violinist and composer. His skill on the violin and ability to create musical and lyrical compositions made him a prominent figure in music. Viotti's artistic contributions extended beyond his violin playing and compositions; he also directed opera companies in Paris and London and had close relationships with musical giants such as Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven.

The Viotti Stradivarius: A Legend in the World of Violins

One of the defining aspects of Giovanni Battista Viotti's career was his association with the Viotti Stradivarius violin. Crafted by Antonio Stradivari in 1709, this instrument became synonymous with Viotti's name. The violin was known for its exceptional craftsmanship and tonal qualities, capturing the hearts of musicians and audiences alike. Viotti held the Viotti Stradivarius, and it is said that he even commissioned at least one duplicate of the instrument. In September 2005, the Royal Academy of Music acquired the Viotti ex-Bruce, another violin commissioned by Viotti, with the support of various funding sources. The instrument, now renamed after its previous owner, is a treasured possession of the Academy and will be showcased at the York Gate Collections.

Viotti's Influential Violin Concertos

Giovanni Battista Viotti's violin concertos are some of his most well-known and influential works. These concertos, totalling 29 in number, left a lasting impact on the music world and even influenced the likes of Ludwig van Beethoven. While Viotti's Concerto No. 22 in A minor, composed in 1792, remains popular among advanced student players, his other concertos, though of comparable quality, are rarely performed. However, violinist Franco Mezzena released a complete set of Viotti's concertos on the Dynamic label in 2005, bringing these lesser-known works to light. Viotti's music showcases the violin prominently, and his string quartets, categorized as Quatuors brillants, differ from Joseph Haydn's balanced texture by giving the first violin a "solo" role. Viotti's Tre Quartetti Concertante, G.112, 113, and 114, are true concertante compositions with complete solos for each instrument, going beyond the traditional symphonic structure.

Chamber Music and Other Compositions

In addition to his violin concertos, Giovanni Battista Viotti composed a significant body of chamber music and other works. His chamber music compositions often followed the traditional ensemble format, featuring two violins and a cello. Op. 18 and Op. 19 are particularly well-known among his chamber music works and continue to be published and performed today. Viotti's exploration of different forms was not limited to chamber music alone; he composed sonatas, songs, and various other pieces. Interestingly, a recent study reveals a striking resemblance between the opening melody of Viotti's "Tema e variazioni in Do maggiore" (1781) and the French song "La Marseillaise," written 11 years later. This connection highlights Viotti's ability to create melodies that transcended borders and influenced popular music of the time.

Legacy and Impact

Giovanni Battista Viotti's contributions to the music world extend far beyond his compositions and performances. His virtuosic violin playing, melodic compositions, and innovative approach to chamber music impacted the music world, influencing both his contemporaries and future generations. Viotti's influence on Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the greatest composers of all time, is particularly noteworthy. Inspired by Viotti's violin concertos, Beethoven incorporated elements of Viotti's style into his compositions. Viotti's legacy lives on through the continued appreciation and performance of his music, ensuring that his contributions to the world of classical music are never forgotten.


Giovanni Battista Viotti, the Italian violinist and composer, carved a permanent place for himself in the annals of music history. His exceptional talent on the violin, coupled with his gift for creating musical and lyrical compositions, set him apart as a true master of his craft. Viotti's association with the legendary Viotti Stradivarius violin further cemented his place in the musical world. His violin concertos, chamber music works, and other compositions continue to be admired and performed, showcasing the enduring impact of his contributions. 

Violin Compositions of Giovanni Battista Viotti | Animato Strings


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