Composers Datebook®

Marco Uccellini

Marco Uccellini (1603 – 1680) Aria IX and Corrente XX (Romanesca) Harmonia Mundi 90.7196

Composer's Datebook - 20210910


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September 10, 2021


The average music lover, if asked to name some notable Baroque composers, will probably answer Bach, Handel, Telemann, or Vivaldi. But decades before most of those composers flourished, a number of bold pioneers of the early Baroque period were busily developing new musical forms and techniques.

Like most composers born before 1700, details about their lives and careers tend to be skimpy at best. Take the case of the Italian composer Marco Uccellini, who was born somewhere in Italy around 1603, and died on today’s date in 1680.

We know that for Italian noble families in Modena and Parma Uccellini composed operas and ballets, but none of them survive. Uccellini’s lasting claim to fame rests on a series of instrumental works, mainly sonatas for violin, which were published during his lifetime.

The British violinist Andrew Manze, who has recorded some of Uccelini’s Sonatas, offers this assessment: “Uccellini’s pioneering spirit led him to seek new colors, explore strange keys, and to boldly go higher than any violinist had gone before. His [high] g was a world record that stood until the Austrian composer Heinrich von Biber squeaked a tone higher in a Violin Sonata published the year after Uccellini’s death in 1680.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Marco Uccellini (1603 – 1680) Aria IX and Corrente XX (Romanesca) Harmonia Mundi 90.7196

On This Day


  • 1714 - Italian opera composer Niccolo Jommelli, in Aversa (near Naples); He was known as "the Italian Gluck";

  • 1866 - Swedish violinist and composer Tor Aulin, in Stockholm;

  • 1875 - Lithuanian composer Mikolajus Ciurlionis, in Varena (Gregorian date: Sept. 22); His birthday is incorrectly listed as Oct. 4 in many reference works;


  • 1680 - Italian composer Marco Uccellini, age c. 77, in Folimpopoli;


  • 1838 - Berlioz: opera, "Benvenuto Cellini," at the Paris Opera;

  • 1950 - Karl Amadeus Hartmann: "Adagio" (Symphony No. 2), by the Southwest German Radio Orchestra, Hans Rosbaud conducting;

  • 1955 - Cowell: "Hymn and Fuguing Tune" No. 10 for oboe and strings, in the Sunken Gardens of the Spanish Court House in Santa Barbara, Calif., by oboist Bert Gassman and the strings of the 3rd Annual Pacific Coast Music Festival orchestra, Leopold Stokowski conducting;

  • 1971 - Ginastera: opera "Beatrix Cenci" at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.;

  • 1989 - Peter Maxwell Davies: Symphony No. 4, at a BBC Proms Concert in London's Royal Albert Hall, by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by the composer;

  • 1998 - Joan Tower: "Wild Purple," for solo viola, at Lincoln Center in New York, by Paul Neubauer.