Musical Friendships is the Clinton Symphony’s annual chamber music performance, and will take place on Sunday, November 4, 3:00 p.m., in Zion Lutheran Church. Leading off our concert will be the Trio Concertante for Two Violins & Viola by Guiseppi Maria Cambini. Ann Duchow and Hana Velde, violins; and Becca Payne, viola, will be performing this work.
Please enjoy these program notes* :
Little validity can be given to accounts of his early life, but that he was born in Livorno, Italy, and that he possibly studied violin with Filippo Manfredi. One fanciful legend has it that following a failed concert appearance in Naples in 1766, he was kidnapped on his return to Livorno by pirates who treated him disgracefully until his release at the behest of a Viennese aristocrat. Tales such as this were often condoned and even elaborated upon by Cambini himself as a means of self-promotion.
Cambini seems to have been active in Naples before settling in Paris in 1770. In Paris, he published a continuous stream of compositions and performed as a violinist, although his instrumental skills were considered poorly in comparison to other violin soloists of the day. His musical pieces, however, found an eager audience. He remained in Paris until around 1800 working in various occupations as theater manager, newspaper columnist, editor, and composer. Apparently, he adapted well to the extreme conditions the French Revolution visited on the capital city, for nothing adverse is reported in the published accounts of the musical life of the city.
While in Paris, Cambini contributed a voluminous number of compositions to the life of the musical city. He composed chamber music, symphonies, oratorios, operas, and other concert pieces. He wrote more than 80 sinfonias concertante, thus inspiring a tale of conflict with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: In 1788, Mozart complained that Cambini tried to interfere with a performance of Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante KV297b, because he, Cambini, was “jealous of its perfection.” However, Cambini was considered by other composers with whom he had contact to be of good moral character and “and an honest man.”
Little is known for certain of Cambini’s life following his contract to write articles for periodicals and magazines, such as the German Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung and the French Tablettes de Polymne. Evidence of his work in these publications appear until 1811, after which he disappears without a trace. One author states that he died in Holland in 1818, while another attests that Cambini fell ill to a mental disease and died in a sanitarium in 1825.
Cambini’s Trio Concertante for Two Violins and Viola, No 1, Op 1, is just one of over 110 trios he wrote for various instrumental configurations.
* Program notes by William Driver.