Giuseppe Cambini


Giuseppe Cambini

Giuseppe Maria Gioacchino Cambini (February 13?, 1746 - 1825?) was an Italian composer and violinist.

Born in Livorno, Cambini first studied violin with Filippo Manfredi. A legend says that after one of his operas flopped in Naples, Cambini and his fiancee left on a ship that was captured by pirates. A rich Venetian recognized Cambini's talent and purchased his freedom from the pirates.

Regardless of the legend, Cambini arrived in Paris some time before or in 1773, and after one of his Symphonies was played at a Concert Spirituel, his music was published as soon as he wrote it, quickly building up an oeuvre of much instrumental music and a dozen operas. Sometimes, however, music of other composers was published under his name, as happened with one Symphony of Joseph Martin Kraus.

When Mozart was in Paris, a Concert Spirituel with Mozart's "Symphonie Concertante", K. 297b, was cancelled, and Mozart blamed Cambini (this was part of Mozart's pattern of badmouthing Italian composers, such as Antonio Salieri). Mozart's false allegation may have had something to do with the fact that Cambini wrote a lot of Symphonies Concertante.

During the French Revolution, Cambini wrote hymns for the revolutionaries, but after the political arena calmed down, Cambini wrote less music and more essays about music, and the popularity of his music quickly declined. From this point, Cambini's biography is very sketchy: he might have stayed in Paris to his death sometime in the 1820s, or he might have gone to the Netherlands and died in the late 1810s.

Only two of Cambini's operas survive in their entirety, while the large amount of his String Quartets that he wrote and have been passed down to this day have led some commentators to believe that Cambini had a major role in the development of the String Quartet in France.

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