time, composed four operas, 'Sofonisbe,' 'Ciro in Armenia,' 'Nitocri,' and 'Insubria consolata' (1771)) several cantatas, and many pianoforte concertos and sonatas, well known in Germany.
[ M. C. C. ]
AGOSTINI, Ludovico, born 1534 at Ferrara. In holy orders, and both poet and composer. Became chapel-master to Alfonso II, Duke of Este, and died Sept. 20, 1590. A collection of his masses, motetts, and madrigals, appeared shortly before his death.
AGOSTINI, Paolo, an Italian composer, who stands out in relief from too many of his contemporary countrymen. He was born at Vallerano in 1593, and was a pupil, at Rome, of Bernardino Nanini, whose daughter he married. After being organist of S. Maria in Trastevere, and Maestro di Cappello at S. Lorenzo in Damaso, he succeeded Ugolini as Maestro at the Vatican Chapel, in 1629. Unhappily for his art, he died a few months after his preferment, in the 36th year of his age.
Pitoni, who would seem to be nothing if not inaccurate, has a story to the effect that Agostini owed his appointment at the Vatican to an unanswered challenge to a musical encounter, which he sent to Ugolini, who had been his fellow-pupil under Nanini; the Chapter conceived that, if their Maestro shunned a professional duello with Agostini, he ought to give up his place to him. But this is hardly probable, and Baini, with unnecessary perseverance, exposes its improbability. A more pleasant anecdote is that Urban VIII happened to enter the Basilica at the moment when a work of Agostini's, for forty-eight voices, after the fashion then in vogue, was being performed by the choir. The Pope stopped to hear it out; and, at its conclusion, rose and bowed pointedly to its composer, to mark his sense of its beauty.
The extant published works of Agostini consist of two volumes of Psalms for four and eight voices (printed by Soldi, Rome, 1619); two volumes of Magnificats for one, two, and three voices (Ibid., 1620); and five volumes of Masses for eight and twelve voices, published (Robletti, Rome) in 1624, 1625, 1626, 1627, and 1628 respectively. He was one of the first to employ large numbers of voices in several choirs. Ingenuity and elegance are his prevailing characteristics; but that he could and did rise beyond these, is proved by an 'Agnus Dei' for eight voices in canon, which was published by P. Martini in his 'Saggio di Contrappunto Fugato,' and which is allowed to be a masterpiece. The fame, however, of Agostini rests upon his unpublished pieces, which form the great bulk of his productions. They are preserved partly in the Corsini Library, and partly in the Collection of the Vatican. A motett by Agostini is given in Proske's 'Musica Divina' (Liber Motettorum, No. lxx.)
[ E. H. P. ]
AGRELL, Johann, born at Löth in Sweden; studied at Linköping and Upsal. Appointed court musician at Cassel in 1723, and in 1746 conductor at Nuremberg, where he died, 1767. He left nine published works (Nuremberg), concertos, sonatas, etc., and many more in manuscript.
AGREMENS (Fr., properly Agrémens du Chant or de Musique; Ger. Manieren; Eng. Graces). Certain ornaments introduced into vocal or instrumental melody, indicated either by signs, or by small notes, and performed according to certain rules.
Various forms of agrémens have been from time to time invented by different composers, and many of them have again fallen into disuse, but the earliest seem to have been the invention of Chambonnières, a celebrated French organist of the time of Louis XIV (1670), and they were probably introduced into Germany by Muffat, organist at Passau in 1695, who in his youth had studied in Paris. The proper employment of the agrémens in French music—which, according to Rousseau (Dictiounaire de Musique, 1768) were necessary 'pour couvrir un peu la fadeur du chant français'—was at first taught in Paris by special professors of the 'gout du chant,' but no definite rules for their application were laid down until Emanuel Bach treated them very fully in his 'Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen,' in 1752. In this he speaks of the great value of the agrémens: 'they serve to connect the notes, they enliven them, and when necessary give them a special emphasis, … they help to elucidate the character of the music; whether it be sad, cheerful, or otherwise, they always contribute their share to the effect, … an indifferent composition may be improved by their aid, while without them even the best melody may appear empty and meaningless.' At the same time he warns against their too frequent use, and says they should be as the ornaments with which the finest building may be overladen, or the spices with which the best dish may be spoilt.
The agrémens according to Emanuel Bach are the Bebung, Vorschlag, Triller, Doppelschlag, Mordent, Anschlag, Schleifer, Schneller, and Brechung (Ex. 1).
- Paolo Agostini must not be confounded with the earlier and inferior Ludovico Agostini of Ferrara, who, having lived for fifty-six years, and having been Maestro at the Cathedral of his native town, died in 1590, and left certain masses, madrigals, and motetti behind him: nor with Pietro Simoni Agostini, a Roman, who lived during the latter half of the 17th century, and was the author of some published cantatas, and of 'Il Ratto delle Sabine,' an opera performed in Venice in 1680.
- The Bebung (Fr. 'balancement'; Ital. 'tremolo') cannot be executed on the modern pianoforte. It consisted in giving to the key of the clavichord a certain trembling pressure, which produced a kind of pulsation of the sound, without any intervals of silence. On stringed instruments a similar effect is obtained by a rocking movement of the finger without raising it from the string."