Giambattista Pergolesi, Italian composer, 4 January 1710- 16 March 1736

Giambattista (or Giovanni Battista) Pergolesi was born in Jesi, which was then in the Italian Papal States. At the age of 16 he entered the conservatory run by the Poveri di Cristo monastic order in Naples where he studied the violin (at which he had been something of a child prodigy), singing and composition for five years, composing his first liturgical works, and at the age of 21 presented his first opera, Salustia.

During the brief career that preceded his death from tuberculosis at the age of 26, Pergolesi served as maestro di capella for members of the Neapolitan nobility, producing other operatic works (notably L'Olimpiade and the intermezzo La Serva Padrona), and liturgical works including two settings of the mass. His final completed work, and the one which has had the most lasting success, was a setting of the Stabat Mater for choir and string orchestra.

In the years following Pergolesi's death his operatic works were of considerable importance in promoting the forms of Italian comic opera (opera buffa) as a serious art form, not least in the doctrinal struggle ("la guerre des bouffons") between the Italian and French approaches to music theatre. His posthumous success also led to quite a number of later discoveries being inaccurately (or falsely) ascribed to him, including those reworked by Stravinsky three hundred years later in his Pulcinella.



Most of Pergolesi's libretti appear to have been written by Federico Gennarantonio.


Magpied from a variety of web and paper sources, some contradictory, including the Encyclopedia Britannia and the Catholic Encyclopedia.

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