Gaetano Brunetti: Trio for two Violins and Cello in E-flat Major (1776)


  • Composer(s): Gaetano Brunetti
  • Edition: Da Vinci Edition
  • Editor: David Scaroni
  • Format: A4 - Paperback
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: Cello, Two Violins
  • ISMN: 9790216218160
  • Pages: 20
  • Period: Classical
  • Publication year: 2021
SKU: DV 21936 Category:

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Gaetano Brunetti (b ?Fano, 1744; d Colmenar de Orejo, nr Madrid, 16 Dec 1798). Italian composer, violinist and orchestra director, active in Spain. The son of Stefano Brunetti (of Fano) and Vittoria Perusini, he probably studied the violin in Livorno with Pietro Nardini. Having moved with his parents to Madrid by 1762 (the date of a collection with one small piece by him), he entered the service of Charles III in 1767 as a violinist of the royal chapel. He also taught music and the violin to the king’s son, the Prince of Asturias, and composed for the court. By 1771 his duties had expanded to include commissions for festivities at Aranjuez, and in 1779 he was appointed music director of such festivities.

When Charles IV became king (1788) he appointed Brunetti director of the newly formed royal chamber orchestra; Brunetti wrote much for the group and selected a wide repertory from contemporary European composers, with works of Haydn strongly featured. Brunetti was also responsible for collecting and maintaining the royal library, and he is partly responsible for the rich collection now housed in the royal palace, Madrid. In spite of the social and governmental weaknesses of his court, the king’s interest in art (as Goya’s patron), his accomplishments as a violinist and his insatiable appetite for new works provided a stimulating cultural atmosphere in which Brunetti flourished. Brunetti was also a welcome and frequent visitor at the court of the Duke of Alba, to whom he dedicated several works, and his influence extended to numerous other courts in Madrid, including that of Boccherini’s patron, the Infante Don Luis. He remained in Charles’s service until his death, which occurred within a month of his second marriage. He was survived by a daughter and a son Francesco (b c1770), a cellist in the royal chamber orchestra.

Brunetti’s music has remained virtually unknown since the 18th century; very little was published during his lifetime, and only a few pieces are available in modern editions. Most of his 451 works are chamber pieces written to be performed by and for the king and his ensemble. The symphonies, mostly in four movements, form another important group. The music found in the royal palace archives indicates Brunetti’s exposure to a wide range of stylistic influences from composers of various nationalities. The king’s preference, however, was for the style of the early Classical composers, and Brunetti’s music, written with unusual imagination in a blend of traditional and progressive styles, best fits into that category. He most frequently wrote in Classical forms – sonata-allegro, variation and rondo; he also used dance forms and occasionally inserted a minuet into a final rondo. The sonata-form movements have extended development sections (generally based on the principal theme and favouring the minor mode) and abbreviated recapitulations that may invert the order of thematic material or omit the principal theme altogether; there is seldom a coda. The transitional or developmental passages frequently make use of interesting and original chromatic or enharmonic modulations, and the return to the tonic is often intentionally unprepared. The symphonies feature prominent wind parts, and some of the later works, particularly the minuets and contredanses, use large-scale forces: flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani and strings. The third movements are usually in a double dance form other than the minuet and trio, with the first dance scored for a wind quintet and the second for strings.

Brunetti’s consistently graceful melodic lines are built from a single small motif, providing the cohesive structural element of a whole movement. The phrases are balanced, with the second half of each usually longer than the first and closing with an extension or development of the thematic idea. The texture is usually homophonic and is given an impelling rhythmic drive by the frequent juxtapositions of triplets and duplets. His manuscripts explicitly indicate tempo, embellishments, dynamics, phrasing, bowing and other performing techniques (ponticello, spiccato, col legno etc.). Of particular interest are the group of 13 adagios glosados, of which ten have been identified as alternative second movements to existing sonatas. They form an important group of Brunetti’s works from a historical point of view, both within his own output and as part of the history of ornamentation.