This site was started to make it possible to become better acquainted with a composer active in the first half of the eighteenth century, and to highlight his vigorous, intuitive, melodic compositions. A contemporary of J.S. Bach, Paolo Bellinzani (Mantova 1682-Recanati 1757) dedicated himself almost exclusively to the composition of sacred music.
His printed works spread throughout Italy pushing their way over the Alps all the way to Berkeley, California. For years I have delved into his identity from a biographical, historical and stylistic point of view and I tried to bring to light some aspects in order to fill in some previous inaccuracies and gaps.
Paolo Benedetto Bellinzani
A short biography
Gioachino Rossini’s main biographer Giuseppe Radiciotti described Paolo Benedetto Bellinzani as a “worthy and most fertile composer” who had become a member of the Philharmonic Academy of Bologna “with no need of any novitiate”. Bellinzani was also “an excellent teacher, capable of perfecting in the Virtue of Song Pasquale Bruscolini of Pesaro, a Virtuoso of Music and most skilled contralto who had much success throughout Europe”. Father Martini of Bologna, historically recognized as the authority of his day on musical doings in Italy and Europe, put a portrait of Bellinzani in his private art gallery which, in the words of Andrea Emiliani, contained “the most celebrated figures of the science of music”. Bellinzani worked in important chapels, basilicas and cathedrals of towns as Udine, Verona, Ferrara, Pesaro, Orvieto, Urbino, Recanati …
1682 ca. Born in Mantova
1713 ca. Ordained priest
1715 - 1721 Chapelmaster at Udine cathedral
1718 Appointed Censore dé Signori Accademici Risorti in Ferrara
1721 - 1722 Chapelmaster at the Chapel of San Nicolò, Fabriano
1722 - 1723 Chapelmaster at Pergola cathedral
1724 - 1727 Chapelmaster at Pesaro cathedral
1727 Member of the Philharmonic Academy of Bologna without without needing any novitiate
1730-1733 Chapelmaster at the Metropolitana in Urbino
1734 Chapelmaster at Fano cathedral
1735 - 1737 Chapelmaster at Orvieto cathedral
1737 - 1757 Chapelmaster at Recanati
1757 Died in Recanati
The spiritual language
A few informations
The music of the theatre dominated in the first part of the eighteenth century and constituted a serious threat for composers of sacred music, at times brought to unconscious stylistic compromise. Deciding to counteract this problem, Bellinzani understood that it was necessary to find a common element between that of the sacred style and that of the theatre and - after a careful analysis of the fabric of the operatic composition - he succeeded in isolating that unique element, that of Unisoni.
Bellinzani sustained that Unisoni became a part of musical theatre, in order to ensure that the force of the thought and the consonance did not become confused by the overlapping of voices. He intuitively knew that their double merit could strengthen - in the theatrical field - dramatic tensions, characterisations of persons, the singular atmosphere, as well as poignancy, emotiveness, the connotation and effects of the scene. He knew also that their wise use in the music of the church could contribute to the Mass, illuminating the sacred text, thereby facilitating one’s approach to God.