In my recent explorations of Baroque Era music I've been going through a
good number of composers, some of whom I had no knowledge of or only a
passing acquaintance. And I've been searching out music, trying to get
some understanding of the wide variety of styles of this hugely prolific
period in music history.
Yesterday I was looking at some albums by Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751),
who today is known primarily for his famous Adagio in G minor. I had
listened to the work before across the years — it's almost impossible not
to considering how much it is performed, recorded, used in both movies
and on television. In fact in terms of popularity it has to be almost as
well known as Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.
But there always seemed to me to be something a bit funny about the
famous Adagio. While the melody seemed one that might come out of the
Baroque period, the orchestration seemed off somehow, more similar to
Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings (another well-known work).
Well yesterday I found out the reason for that. Evidently the work is
not really by Albinoni at all, but is rather a pastiche.
The Albinoni Adagio in G minor for violin, strings and organ, T. Mi
26, the subject of many modern recordings, was according to Remo
Giazotto mainly written by himself. The 20th century musicologist
Giazotto, author of a biography of Albinoni, claimed to have discovered
a tiny manuscript fragment (consisting of a few measures of the melody
line and basso continuo portion) from a slow movement of an Albinoni
trio sonata. According to Giazotto's account, the document had been sent
to him by the Dresden State Library from among the relics of its
collection, shortly after the end of World War II. Giazotto concluded it
was a portion of a church sonata (sonata da chiesa) composed by
Albinoni, possibly as part of the Op. 4 set, around 1708. According to
Giazotto he then constructed the balance of the complete single-movement
work around the fragmentary theme he ascribed to Albinoni, copyrighted
it, and published it in 1958. [Source]
I guess that would explain it.
Most of Albinoni's compositions written after 1720 — the last 30 years
of his life — were lost during the bombing of Dresden in World War II.
War always takes such a horrible toll. But fortunately there are a good
number of his works still left to us.
For an example of what a trio sonata by Albinoni typically sounded like,
check out the Sonata in C Major Op. 2 No. 2.
Well all of this may be well-known in any case. But I learn something
new every day. Unfortunately, I forget two things every day — or at
least I think I do, I can't remember.
That's about all there is that's Albinoni. And
actually not even that.