Emanuele Barbella: Due sonate a solo per violino e basso


  • Composer(s): Emanuele Barbella
  • Edition: Da Vinci Edition
  • Editor: Gabriele Zanetti
  • Format: A4 - Paperback
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: Violin
  • ISMN: 9790216213349
  • Pages: 20
  • Period: Baroque
  • Publication year: 2020
SKU: DV 21625 Category:

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Emanuele Barbella (b Naples, 14 April 1718; d Naples, 1 Jan 1777). Italian violinist and composer. His first teacher was his father, Francesco Barbella, composer and maestro di violino at the Conservatorio di S Maria di Loreto. He was later instructed by Angelo Zaga and by Pasqualino Bini, a noted pupil of Tartini. In theory and composition he was the pupil of Michele Cabbalone until the latter's death in 1740 and subsequently, until 1744, he studied with Leonardo Leo. The story that Leo thought him stupid resulted from a misinterpretation of Barbella's humorous modesty in the autobiographical sketch he provided for Burney's History. In 1753 Barbella became first violinist at the Teatro Nuovo in Naples, and three years later he entered the royal chapel there. From 1761 until his death he was a member of the orchestra at S Carlo. It is possible that he visited England during the 1760s, for his op.1 was printed in London by Oswald ‘for the author’.

Although there is no evidence that Barbella ranked among the finest Italian violinists, he was respected as a performer and admired as a teacher and composer. Burney, who became his friend and relied on his knowledge, confessed to some disappointment in his playing, complaining of lack of variety, ‘drowsiness of tone’, and ‘want of animation’. Yet he found much to praise also, especially when hearing Barbella in a small room, and spoke of his ‘taste and expression’ and of his ‘marvellously sweet tone’. Barbella’s compositions, which evidently achieved a modest success in London and Paris, reflect his position as a disciple (through Bini) of Tartini. The craftsmanship is sure, but what seemed to Burney as ‘a good deal of fancy’ appears as no more than graceful imitation of Tartini's style. Occasional harmonic surprises (according to Burney, ‘a tincture of not disagreeable madness’), may represent Barbella's interpretation of Tartini's harmonic theories. The humorous side of this attractive musician's personality is sometimes seen in bizarre programmatic titles and unusual tempo indications. His good temper and stable character probably contributed to his effectiveness as a teacher and to the esteem in which he was held by his contemporaries. Ignazio Raimondi was his most famous pupil.