Alessandro Stradella (April 3, 1639 - February 25, 1682) was an Italian composer of the middle Baroque. He was born in Rome, and was murdered in Genoa.
Not much is known about his early life, but he was from an aristocratic family, educated at Bologna, and was already making a name for himself as a composer at the age of 20, being commissioned by Queen Christina of Sweden. In 1667 he moved to Rome where he composed copiously, mostly sacred music, and began to live a dissolute life. With a friend he attempted to embezzle money from the Catholic Church, but was found out: he fled the city, only returning much later when he thought it was safe. Unfortunately his numerous incautious affairs with women began to make him enemies among the powerful men of the city, and he had to leave Rome for good.
In 1677 he went to Venice, where he was hired by a powerful nobleman as the music tutor to his mistress. As might be expected, Stradella was shortly involved with her, and had to flee when their liaison was found out; but this time the nobleman hired a gang of thugs to follow him and kill him, which they narrowly failed to do. Stradella went next to Genoa, where he wrote operas and cantatas; unfortunately he was again involved in an affair with a poorly-chosen woman, and this time a hired killer caught up with him at the Piazza Bianchi and stabbed him to death.
Stradella was an extremely influential composer at the time, though his fame was eclipsed in the next century by Corelli, Vivaldi and others. Probably his greatest significance is in originating the concerto grosso: while Corelli in his Op. 6 was the first to publish works under this title, Stradella clearly uses the format earlier in one of his Sonate di viole. Since the two knew each other, a direct influence is likely.
Stradella wrote at least six operas, as well as numerous cantatas and oratorios. He also wrote 27 separate instrumental pieces, most for strings and basso continuo, and typically in the sonata da chiesa format.
His colorful life and bloody death clearly made a good story for an opera of its own. Three separate composers made operas out of his life, the most famous being Friedrich von Flotow with his Alessandro Stradella (Hamburg, 1844).
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