Giovanni Battista Sammartini (1700-1775)
Giovanni Battista Sammartini, considered by contemporaries as one of the greatest composers of his time, was born into a family of Italian musicians of French origins, the Saint-Martin. Three hundred years after his birth, Sammartini is finally becoming better known, thanks to new discoveries and analyses of his compositions, and important articles and critical editions of his works (see the volume edited by Anna Cattoretti: “Giovanni Battista Sammartini and his musical environment”, in Studi sulla storia della musica in Lombardia, ed. Brepols, 2004). The approximately 450 extant works (in addition to the many scores irretrievably lost) testify to a composer who undertook the writing of virtually every vocal and instrumental genre of the time, including some of the more unusual ones: symphonies—for which the Milanese school was particularly noted—and many other instrumental compositions, two oratorios, some liturgical works, and numerous concertos, concertinos, string quintets and quartets, trios, duos, sonatas for harpsichord, a few theatrical works, dramatic compositions d’occasione, etc. The majority of the manuscripts or prints are preserved in libraries throughout Europe, while Milan, strangely enough, contains only a small number of manuscripts. Sammartini’s limited discography demonstrates how much work there is still to be done in the fields of critical editions and publications of this author, who unquestionably deserves greater attention.