Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/240

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228

��SARASATE.

��tendency to trick, such as tremolo, which is very regrettable in an artist of genius and sensibility, and from over-rapidity in quick movements. His repertoire is varied, comprising the concertos of the classical masters Viotti, Beethoven, Spohr, and Mendelssohn and the works of the modern French and Belgian schools. Among the latter his favourites are Max Bruch's concertos, those of Saint-Saens and Lalo, and the Symphonie Espag- nole of the last-named composer. Sarasate has composed for his instrument romances, fantaisies, and especially transcriptions of Spanish airs and dances (Simrock, Bonn), all calculated to display his skill as a virtuoso. [G.C.]

SARTI, GIUSEPPE, born at Faenza, Dec. I, 1729, a date differing from that given by most of his biographers, but furnished by Sarti's own grandson to the writer, who has taken great pains to verify it. The son of a jeweller who played the violin in the cathedral, he early learned music, and had lessons in composition from Vallotti according to his own family, from Padre Martini according to his biographers. Whether at Padua or at Bologna (the respective homes of the two masters), he completed his studies at an early age, for we learn from the chapter archives, still preserved in the library of Faenza, that he was organist of the cathedral from 1748 to April 1750. In 1751 he composed his first opera, 'Pompeo in Armenia,' which was enthusiastically received by his fellow towns- men, and followed by several more serious works, and 'II Re pastore' (Venice, 1753) which had an immense success. So quickly did his fame spread that when he was only 24 the King of Denmark (Frederic V.) invited him to Copenhagen as Capellmeister to the Prince Royal, and director of the Italian opera; and, on the closing of the latter in two years, made him Court-capellmeister. In the summer of 1765 the king determined to reopen the opera, and Sarti went back to Italy after an absence of twelve years to engage singers ; but his plans were upset by the deaths first of the king in 1766, and then of his own mother in 1767, so that it was not till 1768 that he returned to Copenhagen. These three years of trouble were not unfruitful, as he composed five operas, of which two, ' I Contratempi ' and ' Didone abban- donata,' were given in Venice, where he seems chiefly to have resided.

Overskou's carefully compiled 'History of the Danish * stage' informs us that Sarti directed the Danish court-theatre from 1770 to May 20, 1775, when he was summarily dismissed. A favourite with Christian VII., and the prote'ge of Struensee and Queen Caroline Matilda, he was too artless and straightforward to curry favour with the queen dowager and the ambitious OveGulberg; so after the catastrophe of 1772 he found his position gradually becoming worse and worse, and when the oligarchical party had secured the upper hand, imprisoning the queen, and reducing the king to a mere cipher, he had,

i Thomas Overskou, ' Den danske Skueplads in dens Historic,' 8ro. Copenhagen. 1854-.

��SARTI.

with other court favourites, to endure much ill treatment, and was finally banished. During this second stay at Copenhagen he married Camilla Pasi, by whom he had two daughters.

Returning to Italy in the summer of 1775 he went first to Venice, became at once director of the Ospedaletto Conservatorio, and administered it with great success for four years. In 1779 the post of maestro di capella of the cathedral of Milan fell vacant through the death of Fioroni, and Sarti was pronounced successful at a compe- tition held before the Conservatorio of Naples. This victory over Paisiello and other eminent mu- sicians, greatly increased his reputation, and pro- cured him many distinguished pupils, Cherubim among the number, who indeed was not only his pupil, but for some years his assistant. 2 In 1784 he received an invitation from Russia too ad- vantageous to be refused, but the nine years spent in Milan were the most brilliant of his whole career, and the most prolific, including as they do his most successful operas, ' Le Gelosie 3 villane ' and 'Farnace' (Venice, 1776) ; 'Achille in Sciro' (Florence, Oct. 1/79) ; 'Giulio Sabino' (Venice 1781), and 'Le Nozze di Dorina' (ib. 1782). To complete the list, at least ten more operas and several cantatas on a large scale should be added, works for the cathedral choir, including several masses, a Miserere k 4, and some important motets.

On his way to St. Petersburg, Sarti made some stay at Vienna, where Joseph II. received him graciously, and granted him the proceeds of a performance of 'I Litiganti,' which had long maintained its place at the Burgtheater. and had helped to fill its coffers, as the monarch politely told the composer. He there made the ac- quaintance of Mozart, then in the very prime of life, who speaks of him as an ' honest, good man,' and who not only played to him a good deal, but adopted an air from his ' Due litiganti ' as the theme of a set of Variations (Kochel, 460), and as a subject in the Second Finale of ' Don Juan/ His pleasure in Mozart's playing did not, how- ever, place him on Mozart's level ; and when the- famous six quartets were published, Sarti was one of the loudest to complain of their ' barbarisms/ His examination remains mostly in MS., but some extracts are given in the A. M. Z. for 1832 (p. 373), including 19 mortal errors in 36 bars, and showing how difficult it is even for a very clever composer to apprehend the ideas of one greater than himself.

Catherine II. received him with even greater marks of favour than Joseph, which he repaid by composing several important works for her own choir, and by bringing the Italian opera into a state of efficiency it had never attained before. Among his sacred compositions of this period may be mentioned an oratorio for two choirs, full orchestra, and band of Russian horns ; a Te Deum for the taking of Otchakow by Potemkin ; and a Requiem in honour of Louis

z See Cherubini's preface to the Catalogue of his works.

a Mozart, in 1791, wrote a final chorus for this, of which, however, nothing has survived but the 5 bars in his autograph catalogue. (See Kochel, 615.)

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