Tomaso Albinoni was born into a family of
Venetian paper merchants m 1671. His father Antonio owned a number
of shops as well as other properties around Venice. Being the
eldest child, Tomaso was given a solid musical education, but
appears to have enjoyed his personal freedom too much to consider
taking employment within the church.
By the age of 23, however, he had begun to find
his way. Me composed an opera, Zenobia Regina de Palmireni,
which was staged, and followed this with a set of 12 trio sonatas.
These two genres, secular vocal music and instrumental works, were
Albinoni's two main concerns throughout his composing life,
although his reputation rests largely on the latter, as little
survives of his output of over 50 operas.
There are suggestions that Albinoni might have
been briefly employed by the Duke of Mantua, but most likely he
merely dedicated a work to him following a meeting at the opera in
Venice. His operas began to enjoy success in Italy, and in 1705 he
married the soprano Margherita Rimondi. Despite rearing six
children she managed to continue her performing career, but died
in her thirties. Albinoni's difficulties continued when he was the
victim of a legal action by one of his father's creditors, which
resulted in the family losing their shops.
Albinoni continued to write instrumental
compositions and in 1707 published a set of 12 concertos for
strings, followed in 1715 by two sets of oboe concertos that show
his gift for fluid, melodic lines. His fortunes improved after he
dedicated 12 concertos to Maximilian Emanuel II, Elector of
Bavaria, in 1722, when he was invited to Munich to supervise the
staging of one of his operas at Prince-Elector Karl Albert's
Ironically, the piece for which Albinoni is best
known in fact owes little to him. The Adagio for strings
and organ was elaborated from a fragmented manuscript by the
twentieth-century Italian musicologist, Remo Giazotto. The piece
owes its romantic character to some particularly lush string
Albinoni associated little with his fellow
composers, and although the influence of Corelli and Vivaldi can
be traced, his musical ideas were relatively undiluted by others.
This individuality, particularly in his instrumental works, along
with the popular success of his apocryphal Adagio, makes
Albinoni well worth discovering.