Pojedynki dźwiękiem pisane. Pietro Antonio Locatelli versus Jean-Marie Leclair

Ewa Chamczyk


Duels of the Sound: Pietro Antonio Locatelli Versus Jean-Marie Leclair

The tradition of musical duels harkens back to the days of the ancient Greece. One of the earliest examples of a musical rivalry is the myth of Marsyas and Apollo, which ends tragically for the satyr. Without doubt, the battles of the ancients served as an inspiration for the next generations of musicians. In each era, they took a different form, tailored to the prevailing norms and customs. In the 16th century the singing competitions of the Meistersingers became extremely popular, and along with the development of instrumental music in 17th century, duels, in which the main subject-matter of the dispute was the superiority of one of the performers in terms of interpretation and fluidity in playing a given instrument, gained increased importance.

A real boom of musical duels did not came along until 18th century, in which public concerts bloomed and along with it, the demand for virtuoso instrumentalists increased. During that era, musical duels were not only confrontations between specific musicians or their patrons, but also contributed to the exchange of experiences between the artists and the spread of musical news and the works themselves. Additionally, the battles symbolised a confrontation of musical styles, in particular the Italian and French styles.
Jean-Marie Leclair, known as the French Corelli, is considered by many researches as the founder of the French violin school. Pietro Antonio Locatelli, an heir to the legacy of Arcangelo Corelli is justifiably considered the Paganini of the 18th century. Their music has shared roots in the tradition of the Italian violin school, yet it differs both in terms of its formality as well as expressiveness. At first glance the French music of J.M. Leclair bears the imprint of standards of the violin concerts of Antonio Vivaldi, whereas the typically Italian works of P.A. Locatelli significantly transcend the norms accepted at that time in terms of requirements imposed on violinists. We know that the first confrontation of the violinists took place on 22 December 1728 at the manor in Kassel. However, some speculate that it was not the only meeting of the musicians. The preserved information suggest that both of them stirred strong emotions among the audiences with their playing.
The profiles of the aforementioned composers, despite their immense importance on the development of violin music, still remain underrated. This article outlines the short story of musical duels and sheds light on violin concerts in the first half of the 18th century. Additionally, the author made an attempt of a comparative analysis of selected violin concerts, i.e. Locatelli’s Violin Concerto in G major, Op. 3, No. 9 and Violin Concerto in A minor Op. 7, No. 5 by Jean-Marie Leclair’s from a similar artistic period of both composers and close in terms of the time of their creation to their famous duel.
Słowa kluczowe: Pietro Antonio Locatelli, Jean-Marie Leclair, violin music, musical duels, violin concerto
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