Giovanni Battista Sammartini


Sammartini was born in Milan into a musical family.  His brother Giuseppe was also a composer, known as "Il Londonese" to reflect his travels to London and differentiate the two.  Giovanni remained in Milan, working as a church organist until his appointment as maestro di cappella at Santissimo Entierro in 1728.  A prolific composer, he wrote around 20 symphonies and there have been claims that he was the first to write in the classical symphonic form.  Specifically Sammartini allegedly wrote a four-movement chamber symphony in 1734, predating Haydn.  Unfortunately there is no concrete evidence for this work's existence.

Regardless of this possibly apocryphal work, Sammartini's contribution to the development of sonata form was significant.  His expansion of thematic development was to influence his pupils, among whom was the young Gluck.  In addition to his symphonies, he left much church music and three operas, two of which he lived to see performed.


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