Giovanni Battista Sammartini (1700-1775)
Notturni a 4, flutta traversiere, due violini e basso, MS, Zurich
Sammartini’s musical production, in large measure consisting of instrumental and symphonic works, may be considered a natural consequence of the composer’s full integration into the life of his city. Milan, which unlike Venice or Bologna did not possess a school of opera composers, was, on the other hand, a brilliant and lively musical center. A tradition of instrumental music supported by excellent schools of instrument makers, civic and private musical events, orchestral ensembles which had long been active in the city and, finally, a wealth of "amateur" musicians of a respectable level, all worked together to create a fertile and nurturing terrain for Sammartini’s own work. The "notturno" was one of the ideal genres for representing the characteristics of this culture. This instrumental form, similar to the serenata and the divertimento, of a light and brilliant character, was logically destined for "nocturnal" festivities and entertainments. It was perfectly suited to the needs of the accademie which the Grand Duke Pallavicini and others after him held "toward evening in order to enjoy the fresh air" on the esplanade of the Castello Sforzesco.