Giovanni Battista Viotti

(1755 - 1824)

Italian violinist and composer. When he was eleven he went to Turin to the household of Prince Alfonso dal Posso della Cistema, who provided for his education. While he was there he studied violin with Pugnam. In 1775 he became a member of the court orchestra in Turin and in 1780 joined Pugnam on a concert tour through Switzerland, Germany, Poland, and Russia. Viotti went alone to Paris, where he played at the Concert spirituel in 1782 and achieved immediate popularity. He was employed by Marie Antoinette in 1784 and in 1788 he opened an opera theater, the Théatre de Monsieur (later called the Théatre Feydeau). Because of difficulties caused by the Revolution, Viotti left for London in 1792. He appeared at Salomon's Hanover Square Concert in 1793, was appointed musical director of the Opera Concerts in 1795, and became orchestral director at the King's Theatre in 1797. He was forced to leave England in 1798 owing to government misgivings about his political activities. He went to Germany for a few years but returned to London by 1801 and started a wine business which later failed. He returned to Paris in 1819 and was made director of the Paris Opéra; he resigned in 1821 and returned to England in 1823.


The majority of Viotti's compositions feature the violin. His most influential works are his twenty-nine violin concertos, the first nineteen of which were published during his early years in Paris. His other works include two symphonies concertantes,fifteen string quartets, twenty-one trios (two violins, cello), around forty violin duos, fifteen violin sonatas. thirteen arias (mostly soprano, with piano accompaniment). Many of these works appeared in other arrangements, both by Viotti and others. He also wrote a Méthode théorique et pratique de violon (Paris, ca. 1835).

VIIE: Instrumental Works from the end of the 18th Century | VIIG: Concerto, Concerto Grosso and Symphony