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Benedetto Marcello

Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739), Italian composer, was born in 1686, either on July 31 or on August 1.

He was of noble family (in his compositions he is frequently described as Patrizio Veneto), and although a pupil of Lotti and Gasparini, was intended by his father to devote himself to the law. In 1711 he was a member of the Council of Forty, and in 1730 went to Pola as Provveditore. His health having been impaired by the climate of Istria, he retired after eight years to Brescia in the capacity of Camerlengo, and died there on July 24 1739.

Marcello is best remembered by his Estro poetico-armonico (Venice, 1724-1727), a musical setting for voices and strings of the first fifty Psalms, as paraphrased in Italian by G. Giustiniani. They were much admired by Charles Avison, who with John Garth brought out an edition with English words (London, 1757). Some extracts are to be found in Hawkins's History of Music.

His other works are chiefly cantatas, either for one voice or several; the library of the Brussels conservatoire possesses some interesting volumes of chamber-cantatas composed for his mistress. Although he produced an opera, La Fede riconosciuta, at Vicenza in 1702, he had little sympathy with this form of composition, and vented his opinions on the state of musical drama at the time in the satirical pamphlet Teatro alia moda, published anonymously in Venice in 1720. This little work, which was frequently reprinted, is not only extremely amusing, but is also most valuable as a contribution to the history of opera.

Benedetto was the brother of Alessandro Marcello, also a composer.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.