Attilio Ariosti


Attilio Ariosti, Alessandro Scarlatti 's junior by thirteen years was an entirely different personality. He was a monk who had obtained dispensation from his order to serve as court composer at many Italian and foreign courts; he was even in the service of Queen Sophie Charlotte in Berlin and later became a protégé of the Emperor Joseph I, who made him his General Agent in Italy. He then returned to his monastery and to Paris and London where he competed with Handel in the composition of operas. However, he did not live up to Handel's popularity and finally vanished into anonymity. It is not known where and when he died.


As far as instrumental music is concerned, Ariosti did not reach the height of Corelli , Vivaldi or Handel, but it is to his credit that he adopted the violin sonata to another instrument, the viola d'amore. This is an alto instrument of the old viol family, with special strings under the fingerboard and a delicate and mysterious sound. In England, where the lover string instruments are particularly loved, the viola d'amore was developed around the middle of the 17th century. Ariosti became a virtuoso on this instrument and won great success, when he played it in the entr'acte music of Handel's opera Amadis in London in 1716.


The Solo and Trio Sonata in the Italian Settecento