Seattle Chamber Music Society

James Ehnes, Artistic Director

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Alessandro Marcello //
1673 - 1747

Italian composer Alessandro Marcello was the son of a Venetian nobleman and excelled in many fields leading a rich and varied life. From 1690 to 1704, Marcello played an active role in the Venetian judiciary system while pursuing his education in the Collegio di S Antonio and the Accademia degli Animosi and holding diplomatic posts in the Levant and the Peloponnese.


The early 1700’s were crucial in the advancement of his artistic self, relationships and career. He pursued painting and drawing and authored eight books of couplets (which were more popular in Paris than Venice). His compositional triumphs occurred alongside the advancement of his political career. In 1708, Marcello published a volume of cantatas dedicated to the Roman noblewoman Livia Spinola Borghese while he began a lawsuit against his brothers over the ownership of some boxes. Marcello found himself a judge of the waterways authority (1713-15), a sentencing officer for the Quarantia (1722-23), a counsel to merchants (1731), a council member of the Comun (1741-42) and in 1728 he had business involvements with a trading enterprise in Antwerp. By 1719, Marcello had become the principe of the Accademia degli Animosi, a long-established Arcadian colony in Venice, where his main focus was collecting musical instruments for the galleria di strumenti of which he was the curator.


His cantatas assume the roles of well-worn pastoral figures and include personal and local allusions in their texts and are more exceptional because of their having been lavishly published than for their musical qualities. In 1712, Marcello spent some time in Rome where many of his cantatas are thought to have been written. While there he had access to many gifted musicians.


Marcello gave great notations in his manuscripts on how certain pieces should be played and which instruments were to be used based on the varying venues the pieces may be played in (specifically the use and choice of woodwind and continuo practice- instruments to use and when to omit it altogether).


Marcello died in 1747, being buried at his family estate at Paviola. Of his six children, Marcello’s only heir was Lorenzo who also enjoyed a long career in Venetian government.


Saturday, January 24, 2015: 6:30 pm Recital