Locatelli's Op. 3 collection of 12 violin concertos, L'arte del violino (the art of the violin), contains some of the most technically demanding violin writing of the Baroque era. Published in 1733, they were dedicated to the Venetian patrician Girolamo Michiel Lini. Stylistically they are therefore closer to the Venetian Vivaldi than the recently deceased Roman master, Arcangelo Corelli.
Each concerto is a virtuosic exploration of the violin's abilities, probably intended for Locatelli himself to perform. Unusually, each of the fast movements contains a written-out cadenza that bears no resemblance to the previous material of the movement. Put together these form a separate set of 24 capriccii!
Each concerto is crammed full of technical wizardry, bel canto melody (particularly in the upper register), and harmonic twists. The middle slow movements are particularly interesting in this last regard. As a showcase for the violin, these works are a remarkable document of Locatelli's undoubted skill as a violinist-composer.
Pietro Antonio Locatelli (September 3, 1695-March 30, 1764) was an Italian composer and violinist.
Locatelli was born on September 3, 1695 in Bergamo in Italy. A child prodigy on the violin, he was sent to study in Rome under the direction of Arcangelo Corelli. Little is known of his subsequent activities except that he finally settled in Amsterdam in 1729, where he died on March 30, 1764.
Locatelli was a master at the violin, said to have never played a wrong note -- except once, when his little finger slipped and got stuck in the bridge of his instrument.
Locatelli's works are mainly for the violin, an instrument on which he was a virtuoso. His most significant publication is probably the Arte del violino, opus 3, a collection of twelve concertos for the instrument which incorporate twenty four technically demanding capriccios (or caprices) - these could function as extended cadenzas, but are now usually extracted and played in isolation from the concertos.
Locatelli also wrote violin sonatas, a cello sonata, trio sonatas, concerti grossi and a set of flute sonatas (his opus 2). His early works show the influence of Arcangelo Corelli, while later pieces are closer to Antonio Vivaldi in style.
Locatelli may be best known to the modern public for a piece that does not actually exist. Master and Commander, the first novel in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey–Maturin series, begins with the famous line: 'The music-room in the governor's house at Port Mahon, a tall, handsome, pillared octagon, was filled with the triumphant first movement of Locatelli's C major quartet.' In fact, Locatelli is not known to have written any quartets.
The chamber piece used for this scene in the movie adaptation of Master and Commander was actually a quintet by Luigi Boccherini in C Major.