Guglielmi, Pietro

About 1720-1804

Celebrated dramatic composer; born at Massa-Carrara, Italy; the son and pupil of Joachim Guglielmi, the chapelmaster to the Duke of Modena. He studied later under Durante at the Conservatory of San Loreto, Naples, where his opera, Chichibio, was composed in 1739, and remains in the royal archives at Naples. He made his debut at Turin in 1755 with an opera the name of which is unknown, and thereafter " the principal cities of Italy disputed the privilege of producing his operas." From Venice he went, in 1762, to Dresden and Brunswick, and in 1768 to London. On his return to Italy, after an absence of fifteen years, he found that Cimarpsa and Paisiello had superseded him; this aroused him to unwonted exertion, and he so far regained his former prestige as to bring his rivals to terms of agreement. However, he tired of dramatic composition, and in 1793 accepted the post of chapelmaster at the Vatican, and thereafter composed only sacred music, including masses; motets; psalms; hymns; and several oratorios, of which Debora e Sisera was his masterpiece. He also wrote considerable chambermusic for violin, violoncello, and harpsichord. Some of his comic operas are still given in Italy. Altogether he wrote from one to two hundred operas, most of which are forgotten. Those of historical importance include I due Gemelli, La Bella Pescatrice, La Didone, La Pastorella Nobile, Enea e Layinia, I Viaggiatori, and La Serva innamorata.