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Giovanni Battista Pergolesi: Life and Work Heritage

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Giovanni Battista Pergolesi: Life and Work Heritage


Speaking of the progress of Italian comic opera of early 18th century, we have to mention the exceptional composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. He remains a considerably important figure, and even despite his abrupt career Giovanni made an unprecedented contribution to the Italian musical development (Paymer, 1977).

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi: Biography Review

The remarkable composer Giovanni Battista Draghi, or best known as Pergolesi, was born in Jesi, Italy on January 4, 1710 (Smith, 2013). Despite the fact that his family was non-musical, young Giovanni showed huge talent and started attending music lessons in his native town. He received his first musical guidance from a couple of priests, who were leaders of the cathedral choir and gave public music lessons. As a result of his incredible talent, Giovanni enrolled to the grand Conservatory in Naples, where he took composition lectures and created his first works.

In 1731, Pergolesi left the educational institution and began to work as an opera composer. He achieved great success in this area, creating such masterpieces as La serva padrona (‘The Maid as Mistress’), Guerre des bouffons (‘War of the Players’), Stabat Mater and many others. Moreover, Giovanni was liable for every music activity in the service of his patron and sometimes composed works for particular occasions.

The great composer died on March 26, 1736, when he was only 26 years old.

Musical Innovations of Pergolesi

From the first steps of his career as a composer, Pergolesi established himself as a brilliant writer, who is not opposed to experiments and innovations. His best-known masterpiece for the stage to this day is La serva padrona (1733), which had an indescribable impact on the progress of comic opera (Degrada, 1986). Experts even say that this particular work was the missing link between the Baroque and Classical styles in composition. It can be confirmed by the fact that the target audience of the opera transferred from aristocrats to working middle class, thus causing changes in its subject. Pergolesi’s La serva pardona was the first comic opera that reflected interests of common people.

Sacred Heritage of Pergolesi

In addition to opera works of Pergolesi, he made an astonishing contribution to sacred classical music. The most significant work in this genre is Stabat Mater, which was even presented during an annual Good Friday meditation in honour of the Virgin Mary. The great composer worked on it during the last stage of tuberculosis, and according to the legend, he died shortly after completing the Stabat Mater. Therefore, this sacred composition is filled with expressive emotions that became



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