Michael Haydn - Contemporary composers





  Giovanni Paisiello was born in Taranto on May 9th 1740. He received his first musical training from a priest, Don Carlo Presta. In 1754 he went with his father to Naples and entered the Conservatory of St. Onofrio as a pupil of Durante. Here he spent nine years primarily studying church music, and composing psalms, motets, and oratorios.

By chance he composed a comic interlude and soon after received a commission from Bologna to compose an opera. During the next years he composed a long string of operas and by 1776 his fame had spread so much, that he was employed by Catherine II, at a yearly salary of 4000 rubles. He stayed in Russia for around eight years.

On his way back to Italy, Paisiello stopped at Vienna, where he stayed long enough to write no less than twelve symphonies for Joseph II. Back in Naples he was appointed chapel master to Ferdinando IV, in 1784.

In 1799 Naples was invaded by French revolutionary troops and the court withdrew to Sicily. Paisiello was appointed composer to the Nation. But after the restoration he wasn't reinstated and after a couple of years without a formal position he accepted a generous offer from Paris and First Consul Napoleon. Though he was highly esteemed by Napoleon, he left after two and a half year, because of his wife's bad health.

Back in Naples again, he was reinstated in his old position of chapel master by Joseph Buonaparte, the brother of Napoleon, who also awarded him a fine pension. This he lost however, when the Bourbon family returned to power.

Giovanni Paisiello died in Naples on June 5th 1816, having lost his beloved wife only a year earlier.

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