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Tomaso Albinoni

(1671-1751) was a Venetian composer, violinist and singer. As the son of a wealthy family of stationers, his financial background initially allowed him to avoid having to take a job and pursue music as a hobby. Only after his family went bankrupt was he forced to make a living from his compositions. He didn’t apply for church positions, nor did he look for employment at aristocratic courts. Even though he was a recognised composer of his age, with 81 operas and many instrumental works (we know of 99 sonatas, 59 concertos and 9 symphonies), and despite his contemporaries comparing him to Corelli and Vivaldi, posterity remembers him for his singular Adagio in G minor, an evergreen baroque hit in concert halls. In 1694 he dedicated his Op. 1 trio sonata series to his generous patron, Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni. His first opera, ‘Zenobia, regina de Palmireni’, premiered in Venice that same year. From the beginning of the 1700s, Albinoni most probably lived in the court of Charles IV, Duke of Mantua, to whom he dedicated his Op. 2 series, while Cosimo Medici III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, was the dedicatee of his Op. 3 suites. Being a popular opera composer allowed him to travel from a young age, and his works saw performances in Genoa, Bologna, Udine, Piacenza and Naples. In 1722, at the invitation of Maximilian Emanuel II, he spent an extended time in Munich where he directed performances of two of his operas. Even Bach was interested in his instrumental music; the great man wrote two fugues on Albioni’s themes and regularly assigned Albioni’s works as exercises for his students.