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Giovanni Mane Giornovichi
|Giovanni Mane||Giornovichi • Ivan Jarnovick|
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- violin concerto # 1 in a major
- violin concerto # 2 in d major
- violin concerto # 3 in g major
- violin concerto # 4 in a major
- violin concerto # 5 in e major
- violin concerto # 6 in f major
- violin concerto # 8 in b flat major
- violin concerto # 9 in g major
- violin concerto # 10 in f major
Giovanni Mane Giornovichi (1735-1804) was one of the most famous virtuosos of the 18th Century. As a contemporary of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he was an enigmatic, quick tempered personality with very rough habits. Often rude to his colleagues, he exasperated his retinue with his tempestuous behavior. According to contemporary composer Adalbert Gyrowetz (1763-1850), Giornovichi was born on a ship off the coast of Sicily in the waters of Ragusa near Palermo. He was a student of the composer, Antonio Lolli. Gyrowetz addresses the artist often in his autobiography exaggerating his importance by including him in the same passages with Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He considers him among the most important composers of the epoch, and attributes the accolade of the most famous virtuoso on the violin and the most excellent violinist of his time. Giornovichi was tremendously successful in many European capitals, including Paris, Frankfurt, Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, St. Petersburg, Moscow and London, performing in concert with some of the greatest musicians of his time including both Haydn and Mozart. He frequently changed the spelling and pronounciation of his name depending on the country where he performed. In slavic nations he called himself Ivan Jarnovick using variation spellings.
Giornovichi first became acquainted with Gyrowetz in Vienna and then again in London in the 1790’s. It was in London that Giornovichi celebrated great success playing for the heir to the British throne, the Prince of Wales. It was quite usual in the 18th Century for soloists to write concerts for themselves. Unlike the present the boundaries between the profession of composer and the soloist were less defined. To compose for oneself also had the advantage that the solo part could be so designed that one’s own virtuoso abilities could be accommodated. For that reason the predominance of the solo violin, shares in stating the melody with the first violin in Giornovichi’s concertos. The rest of the orchestra had a predominantly accompanying role.
Giornovichi has been described as the father of the romantic violin because his playing ability was far in advance of his time. His concertos had stronger lyrical melodies as was usual before the 18th Century. He was also the one who introduced “Romance” as a slow standard movement in the violin concerto. These replaced the embellished chord progressions of the early 18th Century with lyrical tunes. Equally important he used the “Rondo” form as the standard third movement. The virtuoso demands of his works paved the way for Niccolo Paganini by using fast passages in thirds, octaves and tenths. Of his more than twenty concertos, according to current research, seventeen have been preserved. Numerous contemporary prints document the fame and wide distribution of these works. Sixteen of the concertos were published as a collection by J.J. Hummel in Berlin. There is also evidence of printed editions of numerous chamber music compositions for strings, string quartets, string duets, and violin sonatas. Work on melodies as variation movements for the two instruments violin and violoncello also exist. Giornovichi’s developments not only influenced his contemporaries like Mozart and Giovanni Battista Viotti but also became the predominant form for the violin concerto throughout the Romantic Period.
Giornovichi’s career led him throughout Europe, but numerous scandals accompanied his life and often required him to flee an area where he was performing. When he was not perfoming musically, he earned a living as a billiards player. He finally became concert master to the court of Katharina II in St. Peterburg, Russia, where he suffered a stroke while playing billiards and died in 1804. He was honored with an elaborate funeral.