Alessandro Rollla (1757-1841)
Six Quartets for Flute and Strings
Between the end of the 18th century and the first three decades of the 19th, there was a great interest in Italy in the chamber ensemble of quartet with flute. This was especially true among opera composers such Paisiello (see his Sei divertimenti) and Mercadante (the author of various quartets, partly published and partly in manuscript), but also among writers who were primarily active in the field of instrumental music: Cambini (eighteen quartets, op. 9, 3 and 24) and Viotti (Quartetti op. 22, published between 1801 and 1806). Another important composer of this genre was Alessandro Rolla (Pavia 1757- Milan 1841), who has handed down to posterity nearly a dozen pieces for this formation, part of a catalogue of almost six hundred works. Rolla was a widely admired musician in Milanese circles, both as orchestral conductor at the Teatro alla Scala (1802-1833) and as professor of viola at the Milan Conservatory from the year it was founded in 1808 (as witnessed by the celebrated phrase of Vincenzo Monti: “the exceedingly sweet strings of our Rolla enchant the soul”). He was an example of the most common type of musician of the time: a guest of aristocratic salons and thus dedicated to producing music for amateurs; a concert soloist, acclaimed in the great theaters; and a pedagogue, anxious to expand the repertoire of his own instrument or provide colleagues or students with the raw material at which to try their hand.