Giovanni Pergolesi

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Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (b. 4 January 1710, Jesi Italy, d. 16 March 1736, Pozzuoli, Italy) was an Italian composer, violinist and organist. Despite his tragically short life, Pergolesi left an impressive œuvre, including the intermezzo La serva padrona, one of the great examples of the Italian comic opera in the eighteenth century. A successful opera composer, Pergolesi was also a highly esteemed composer of church music, exemplified by his remarkable Stabat Mater.

Stabat mater, In F major (1736)

Musically, Pergolesi sets the successive tercets of his poetic text to alternating duets and arias. From the very opening measures, he carefully sets a mournful affect. The violins (answered later by the vocal duet) open with a drawn-out chain of suspensions and a painfully extended pedal tone. Later movements similarly use overtly "sad" musical devises: the second duet features strong dissonant clashes for "O quam tristis et afflicta," and the third appears above a chromatically descending bass line. Surprisingly, however, Pergolesi also includs several arias that clothe the mournful text in much lighter musical raiment; he was, after all, the famed composer of light opera interludes (including La serva padrona).

—Timothy Dickey, from the All Music Guide to Classical Music (ISBN 0-87930-865-6)