Durante, Francesco

1684-1755

A renowned teacher and composer of the Neopolitan School, who was born at Frattamaggiore, near Naples, Italy. He studied under Alessandro Scarlatti at the Conservatory of San Onofrio, Naples. He later succeeded the great master, his teacher, as head of the Conservatory. He wrote a number of beautiful vocal exercises and duets which were until  recent times highly prized in Italy. None of his music was printed in his lifetime, however, except six harpsichord sonatas. Several European libraries contain a number of his manuscripts, which include masses; motets; psalms and other church music. After Scarlatti, he ranks as one of the founders and chief representatives of the Neopolitan School of composers. Besides his sacred music Durante also wrote several cantatas; madrigals; solfeggio; sonatas; and a grand magnificat, the additional accompaniments to which were composed in modern times by Robert Franz. Durante was the teacher of Pergolesi, Terradellas, Piccinni, Traetta, Jommelli and others. One critic has this to say of him: "The influence of Roman composers is to be traced in his fondness for sacred composition, and he seems to have combined the   severe style of the Roman School with the melodic instinct of the Neopolitans."