Venice, 1704 circa – Venice, March 20, 1766

Giovanni Battista Pescetti

Giovanni Battista Pescetti (Venice, 1704 – ivi, 20.III.1766) studied in Venice with Antonio Lotti (1666-1740). He is to be considered a full-fledged member of the circle of composers referred to as the so-called School of Venice, and which included other important musicians such as G. Legrenzi and A.Vivaldi. Belonging to this group allowed Pescetti to forge many important friendships and working relationships with fellow musicians, in particular with Baldassarre Galuppi (1706-1785). Moreover, Pescetti was held in high esteem by many contemporary composers, some of whom were not Italian, such as the very well renowned Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783), who openly praised some of Pescetti’s sacred compositions for voice.

Like most composers ‘in fashion’ at the time, Pescetti began his career by composing melodrammas, and he debuted in the theatre in Venice with Nerone detronato in 1725. That moment marked the beginning of a string of enviable successes that led to his being appointed Director of Covent Garden in London in 1737, taking over from Nicola Porpora (1686-1768).

In 1762, after a long search for a ‘stable and permanent’ position, he was named the organist of the II organ at the Basilica di S. Marco in Venice, a position he held until his death.

According to scholars and critics, it is Pescetti’s compositions for harpsichord that have the most merit, especially when considering their stylistic innovation. His compositions that survived to today are his six Sonate per Clavicembalo, which remained in manuscript form, and his Sonate per Gravicembalo, which were published in London in 1739.

These compositions are representative of the transition from the Baroque style to the Galante Style. Generally speaking, their movements vary in number from two to four and typically are written in contrasting styles. Similarities exist with the Suite, the Concerto, the Ouverture alla francese, the Melodramma, the Sonata da camera, the variation forms, the forms in rigorous counterpoint style and those which are to be improvised, in particular the Toccata.

(Filippo Emanuele Ravizza)

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