1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bononcini, Giovanni Battista

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BONONCINI (or Buononcini), GIOVANNI BATTISTA (1672?–1750?), Italian musical composer, was the son of the composer Giovanni Maria Bononcini, best known as the author of a treatise entitled Il Musico Prattico (Bologna, 1673), and brother of the composer Marc’ Antonio Bononcini, with whom he has often been confused. He is said to have been born at Modena in 1672, but the date of his birth must probably be placed some ten years earlier. He was a pupil of his father and of Colonna, and produced his first operas, Tullo Ostilio and Serse, at Rome in 1694. In 1696 he was at the court of Berlin, and between 1700 and 1720 divided his time between Vienna and Italy. In 1720 he was summoned to London by the Royal Academy of Music, and produced several operas, enjoying the protection of the Marlborough family. About 1731 it was discovered that he had a few years previously palmed off a madrigal by Lotti as his own work, and after a long correspondence he was obliged to leave the country. He remained for several years in France, and in 1748 was summoned to Vienna to compose music in honour of the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. He then went to Venice as a composer of operas, and nothing more is known of his life.

Bononcini’s rivalry with Handel will always ensure him immortality, but he was in himself a musician of considerable merit, and seems to have influenced the style, not only of Handel but even of Alessandro Scarlatti. Either he or his brother (our knowledge of the two composers’ lives is at present not sufficient to distinguish their works clearly) was the inventor of that sharply rhythmical style conspicuous in Il Trionfo di Camilla (1697), the success of which at Naples probably induced Scarlatti to adopt a similar type of melody. It is noticeable in the once popular air of Bononcini, L’esperto nocchiero, and in the air Vado ben spesso, long attributed to Salvator Rosa, but really by Bononcini.