Italian composer. He studied at the Jesuit school in Taranto and at the Conservatorio di S. Onofrio, Naples (1754-63). In 1776 became maestro di cappellato Catherine II of Russia; in St. Petersburg he composed the court's theater music and directed the court orchestra until 1784, when he left for Naples. In December 1783 he had been nominated as compositore della musica de'drammiby Ferdinand IV of Naples. During several months in Vienna he composed his comic opera Il re Teodoroin Venezia (given at the Burgtheater in August 1784). Soon after his arrival in Naples his Antigono, an opera seria,was given at the Teatro S. Carlo (January 1785). When republican forces captured Naples in 1799, Paisiello was made maestro di cappella nazionale.Napoleon Bonaparte, a great admirer of Paisiello's music, made him director of chapel music in Paris from 1802 to 1804. In Naples he was director of sacred and secular music at the courts of Joseph Bonaparte (1806-8) and Joachim Murat (1808-15). Also director (1807-13) of the state college of music founded in Naples by Joseph. When Ferdinand returned to power in 1815, Paisiello was pardoned and retained his court posts.
Paisiello wrote over eighty operas, including Il duello(Naples, 1774); La frascatana(Venice, 1774); Demofoonte(Venice, 1775); La discordia fortunata(Venice, 1775); L'amor ingegnoso(Padua, 1775); Socrate immaginario(Naples, 1775); Le due contesse(Rome, 1776); Gli astrologi immaginari(St. Petersburg, 1779); Il matrimonio inaspettato(Ostrov, 1779); Il barbiere di Siviglia, ovvero La precauzione inutile(St. Petersburg, 1782); Il mondo della luna(Kammenïy Ostrov, 1782); La grotta di Trofonio(Naples, 1785); Olimpiade(Naples, 1786); Le gare generose(Naples, 1786); Pirro(Naples, 1787); La modista raggiratrice(Naples, 1787); L'amor contrastato(Naples, 1789); Nina, o sia La pazza per amore(Caserta, 1789); I zingari in fiera(Naples, 1789); Le vane gelosie(Naples, 1790); La locanda(London, 1791); Didone abbandonata(Naples, 1794); L'inganno felice(Naples, 1798); and Proserpine(Paris, 1803). He also composed cantatas (Amore vendicato,Naples, 1786; Silvio e Clori,Naples, 1797); oratorios (La passione di Gesù Cristo,St. Petersburg, 1783). Also several oratorios, a number of sacred and secular cantatas, several Masses, other liturgical pieces, various occasional works, concertos, nine string quartets, and violin sonatas.