Lotti, Antonio


Composer and organist; born probably in Venice, as his early youth was spent there. His father was Matteo Lotti, a Venetian, chapelmaster to the then Court of Hanover. Before sixteen years of age Antonio had produced an opera, II Giustino. His musical instructor was Legrenzi, chapelmaster to the Doge. He entered the Doge's Chapel as a boy chorister, and in 1687 joined the St. Cecilia Musical Society, two years later being appointed contraltist with a salary of one hundred ducats. In 1690 he became deputy-organist, gradually advancing until in 1704 he succeeded Spada as  first organist, which position he held for forty years. In 1732 he was allowed a substitute, and he employed his pupil, Saratelli, who afterwards succeeded him. In 1733 the post of chapelmaster became vacant and Lotti won the position in competition with Pollarolo, Porppra and Giovanni Porta. About this time he composed his famous Miserere, which has been performed at St. Mark's on Maundy Thursday ever since. Continuing his work in composition, he produced several masses, hymns, and psalms, with organ accompaniment only, a change from the former use of the orchestra.

In 1693 he began the composition of operas, producing seventeen up to the year 1717. The Crown Prince of Saxony, upon a visit to Venice, was favorably impressed with these works and engaged Lotti to come to Dresden. After obtaining leave of absence Lotti raised a company of singers, including his own wife, a Bolognese singer named Santa Stella, Boschi, Personelli and others. He was very successful in Dresden but the Procurator! of St. Mark's obliged him to return in 1719 or lose his post. Upon his return to Venice he devoted himself to the composition of church and chamber-music. He died after a painful and lingering illness of dropsy. He was buried in the Church of St. Geminiano, where his widow erected a monument to his memory but it was destroyed with the church in 1815. While in Dresden, Lotti composed Giove in Argo; Ascanio, orvero gl" odi delusi del Sangue, and Teofane, with Pallavicini, intermezzos and other works, including church-music, among which was the eight-part Crucifixus occurring in a Credo for five voices and instruments. For Vienna he wrote an opera, Constantino, and two oratorios, II Voto crudele, and L'Urnilta coronata, and for Venice the oratorios Gioa Re di Giuda and Giuditta, and the celebrated madrigal Spirito di Dio for the Doge's espousal of the Adriatic. In his book of madrigals dedicated to Emperor Joseph I. is the one in five parts, In una siepe ombrosa, which Bononcini later claimed as his own work and which led to his disgrace in London. Lotti's rank as a musician was a high one and Hasse, his contemporary, is said to have regarded his compositions as the most perfect of their kind.