GIOVANNI ANTONIO LEONI (1590ca.-post1652 )
Violin Sonatas Opus III
The life of Leoni, Roman composer, teacher and violinist, is shrouded in mystery because nearly all of his works have been lost. Given the opus number of this collection, it is reasonable to assume that two others preceded it. What little is known about the composer is drawn from the dedication and traditional “note to the readers” placed at the beginning of the collection. From what may be gleaned, it seems that he enjoyed the favour and protection of Cardinal G. B. Pallotta in Rome, composing and playing concerts of vocal and instrumental music promoted by the cardinal himself at the Roman Chiesa della Lauretana Vergine. In 1625, his motet, “Domine, Dominus noster” for soprano, basso and basso continuo, was published in the anthology Sacri affetti con testi da diversi eccellentissimi autori, compiled by Francesco Sammaruco, which included works by Frescobaldi and Monteverdi, among others. Leoni had many pupils, and for this reason many of his compositions circulated freely as manuscripts. Indeed, not a few of the persons who came into possession of these pieces modified them slightly and then presented them as their own. This fact triggered the true author to publish his sonatas in a collection that was destined to change music history: it became the first collection ever of sonatas for solo violin and basso continuo.