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The man behind the dramatic “Adagio in G minor”: Tomaso Albinoni, June 14 composer birthday

Station Blog2018-6-13By: Classical Staff

Tomaso Albinoni studied violin and voice and achieved success as an opera composer, though most were lost as they were not published in his lifetime. A collection of his violin sonatas were published posthumously in France, and nine collections of instrumental works were published. Those were successful and reprinted through the years, so he remains known for his instrumental compositions, including 99 sonatas, 59 concertos, and 9 symphonies (all curiously ending in “9”). He was as famous in his day as Corelli and Vivaldi. He is also the first Italian to feature oboe as a solo instrument in concerto form.

Albinoni caught the attention of none other than JS Bach, who based two of his fugues on Alibinoni’s themes – the “Fugue in A major on a Theme by Albinoni”, and the “Fugue in B minor on a Theme by Albinoni”. He also borrowed his basses for harmony exercises for his students.

What is Albinoni most known for? It would have to be for the “Adagio in G minor”, which some thought was composed by 20th century composer Remo Giazotto as a hoax, but after Giazotto’s death, some documents were found to support the belief the original melodies were Albinoni’s. Scholars continue to debate who came up with what, but most agree Giazotto composed the bulk of the work. It’s ironic that so little is known about Albinoni, and what remains of his music is not well-known, yet he remains most famous for a work he did not compose in its entirety. The brooding and stirring Adagio grew in fame, has been re-arranged for different instruments, and has appeared in popular music, film and television, most recently in the 2016 film “Manchester by the Sea”.

The Adagio in G minor as performed by the Copernicus Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Horst Johm.

Tomaso Albinoni was born June 8, 1671 in Venice, Italy, and died January 17, 1751, also in Venice.


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