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Francesco Geminiani

Francesco Geminiani (c. 1680 - September 17, 1762), Italian violinist, was born at Lucca.

He received lessons in music from Alessandro Scarlatti, and studied the violin under Lunati (Gobbo) and afterwards under Corelli. In 1714 he arrived in London, where he was taken under the special protection of the earl of Essex, and made a living by teaching and writing music.

In 1715 he played his violin concertos with Handel at the English court. After visiting Paris and residing there for some time, he returned to England in 1755. In 1761 he went to Dublin, where a servant robbed him of a musical manuscript on which he had bestowed much time and labour. His vexation at this loss is said to have hastened his death.

He appears to have been a first-rate violinist. In former years, his compositions were thought to be dry and deficient in melody; more recently, however, his rhythmic inventions, which are distinct and somewhat more agitated than his fellow masters of the late Baroque, have had their originality more widely appreciated; his Italian fellow pupils reportedly called him Il Furibondo, the Madman, because of his rhythms. He is best known for two sets of concerti grossi, his Opus 3 and Opus 7, which introduce the viola as a member of the concertino group of soloists, making them essentially concerti for string quartet. These works are deeply contrapuntal compared to the galant work that was fashionable at the time of their composition. Geminiani also reworked a group of trio sonatas from his teacher Corelli into concerti grossi.

His Art of Playing the Violin is a good work of its kind, but his Guida harmonica is an inferior production. He published a number of solos for the violin, three sets of violin concertos, twelve violintrios, The Art of Accompaniment on the Harpsichord, Organ, etc., ''Lessons for the Harpsichord and some other works.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.