Viotti, Giovanni Battista
Giovanni Battista Viotti was an Italian violinist and composer who was a crucial figure in the development of the nineteenth-century violin school.
Viotti moved to Turin in 1766 and studied with the virtuoso Gaetano Pugnani until 1770. He toured Germany, Poland, and Russia with Pugnani before making his debut as a violinist in Paris in 1782. He became Marie-court Antoinette's musician and established himself as a teacher and opera impresario. In 1792, he moved to London, where he conducted Italian operas and gave solo performances at the Salomon Concerts in his violin concerti. He fled to Germany in 1798 after being accused of Jacobin sympathies but returned to London in 1801 to resume his wine business while continuing to perform and write privately. After the company failed, he served as the director of the Italian opera in Paris from 1819 to 1822 before returning to London.
Viotti used the sonata form and a professional orchestration to improve the violin concerto significantly. He composed 29 violin concerti, the most popular of which was No. 22 in A Minor, which was revived in the 1870s by Joseph Joachim; 10 piano concerti, some of which were transcriptions of the violin concerti; and string quartets and other chamber pieces.
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