Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Paisiello

Music History Monday: The Futile Precaution

On June 5, 1816 – 201 years ago today – the Italian opera composer Giovanni Paisiello died in Naples at the age of 76. Although almost entirely forgotten today, Paisiello was – in his lifetime – among the most famous, successful and popular opera composers of his time. He composed an absolutely amazing amount of music, including 94(!) operas, a tremendous amount of church music (including passions, oratorios, sacred cantatas, canticles, hymns, psalms and 8 masses), over 50 instrumental works (including 9 string quartets and 8 concerti for keyboard), 20 secular cantatas, and a huge number of stand-alone songs. Whoa. His operas, written in the direct, tuneful, so-called “Neapolitan Style”, were instrumental (pardon the pun) in creating the newfangled comic opera (opera buffa) style that was embraced by audiences across Europe during the Enlightenment. Most important, at least to my mind, is that Paisiello’s over 80 comic operas had a decisive influence on one Wolfgang Mozart, who went on to elevate the erstwhile popular genre of opera buffa to the level of highest art. Paisiello’s single most popular opera was The Barber of Seville or The Futile Precaution, composed in 1782 while he was living in St. Petersburg and working […]

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