Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1719-1733 - Little Stanmore (Middlesex)

Composer and cellist Giovanni Bononcini was born on 18 July 1670 in Modena. He studied with his father who was also a composer. A gifted musician, he worked in Rome, Venice, and Vienna. While in the service of Filippo Colonna in Rome, Bononcini had collaborated with the poet Silvio Stampiglia on five operas of which Il trionfo di Camilla was the highlight of the 1696/7 Naples Carnival. In 1719 he was invited to London by the Earl of Burlington to join the Royal Academy of Music at Cannons, Little Stanmore, under Handel’s direction.

Bononcini was well received in London where his Astarto opened late in 1720s at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, outshining Handel’s operas. There was fierce competition between the two which was fed by arguments of a political nature (tensions between Catholics and Protestants, and between the Stuarts and the Royal family): Handel was backed by the King, while Giovanni enjoyed the favours of the Duke of Marlborough.

Having spent two summers in Paris, Bononcini returned to London, accepting a position as director of the private concerts of the Henrietta Godolphin, Duchess of Marlborough. He held this position until 1731. He had quarters at Blenheim Palace, and enjoyed the freedom to write as he pleased. Having returned to the Continent in 1733, he died in Vienna in July 1747.

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