Alessandro Stradella

(ca. 1639-1682)

Alessandro Stradella

Italian composer. Stradella was the son of a Cavaliere Marc Antonio Stradella of Piacenza, who in 1642-1643 was vice-marchese and governor of Vignola for Prince Boncompagni, who did not wish to live in the dominions from which he took the title of Marchese di Vignola. He was deprived of his office in 1643 for having surrendered the castle to the papal troops, although it might have sustained a siege of several days and the help of the Duke of Modena was expected. An elder brother of Alessandro, Francesco by name, became a member of the Augustinian order, and seems to have enjoyed the protection of the house of Este. Alessandro is supposed to have been born about 1639, probably at Nepi, although the family moved to Vignola, or Monfestino, a town on the road from Modena to Pistoja, whither his father retired after his dismissal; but no records of his birth have come to light. He studied in Bologna before 1664, although it is not known with whom. He probably left his birthplace for good in 1664, and was certainly in Rome by 1667. At this time he was wriuting stage works, oratorios, prologues and intermezzi to opears, and motetes. He came from a noble family, and in consequence was not dependent on any patron or institution, but his compositions were written on commission. Scandal struck when in 1669 he was involved in an attempt to embezzle funds from the church, and he left Rome for a time until it died down. Around 1670-1672, his Il Biante, an azione drammatica, was performed in honor of Pope Clement X. He was again compelled to leave Rome for Venice in 1677 after angering Cardinal Alderan Cibo. Documents in the archives at Turin relate that in 1677 he arrived there with the mistress of Alvise Contarini, with whom he had eloped from Venice. Contarini demanded that both should be given up to him, or failing that, that Stradella should not be allowed to exercise his profession until the lady had been either placed in a convent or made his legitimate wife. Stradella was protected by the regent of Savoy, the duchess Giovanni Battista de Nemours, and the Contarini family, indignant at his audacity, sent two hired assassins to Turin, by whom Stradella was wounded but not murdered. We hear of Stradella last at Genoa. There his comic opera Il trespolo tutore was performed ca. 1677, La Forza deli amor paterno, in 1678 and Le gare dell' amor eroica in 1679, and his last composition, Ii Barcheggio (i.e. a Water-Music ), was performed on June 16, 1681 in honor of the marriage of Carlo Spinola and Paola Brignole, which was solemnized on July 6 of the same year. Documents in the archives at Modena inform us that in February 1682 Stradella was murdered at Genoa by three brothers of the name of Lomellini, whose married sister he had seduced.

His vocal works include seven operas, prologues, intermezzi, a Mass, motets, cantatas, arias, and canzonettas. Most of his 27 instrumental works are sonate da chiesa. His Sonata di viole is the earliest known concerto grosso.

Further reading: Carolyn Gianturco: Alessandro Stradella (1639-1682); His Life and Music (Oxford. 1994)

A Partial Alessandro Stradella Discography |  VD: The Cantata in the Italian Seicento