Leonardo, Leo

, principal organist of the chapel royaj at Naples, was not only admired and respected by his contemporaries, but his memory still continues to be held in reverence by every professor that is acquainted with his works. He was born in 1689. The first opera of his composition is thought to be “Sofonisba,” which was performed in Naples in 1718, and the last, “Siface,” in Bologna, 1737. Between these he produced three operas for Venice, and four for Rome. Leo likewise set the “Olimpiade” of Metastasio. “Dirti ben mio vovice” was in extreme high favour, as set by Leo, about the middle of the last century, in England, where it was sure to be heard at every musical performance, both public and private. Leo likewise set Metastasio‘ s oratorio of “St. Elena al Calvario,” in which there are some very fine airs. His celebrated “Miserere,” in eight real parts, though imperfectly performed in London at the Pantheon, for Ansani’s benefit, 1781, convinced real judges that it was of the highest class of choral compositions.

The purity of his harmony, and elegant simplicity of his melody, are no less remarkable in such of these dramas as Dr. Burney examined, than the judicious arrangement of the parts. But the masses and motets, which are carefully preserved by the curious, and still performed in the churches at Naples, have all the choral learning of the sixteenth century. There are likewise extant, trios, for two violins and a base, superior in correctness of | counterpoint and elegance of design to any similar productions of the same ’period. This complete musician is equally celebrated as an instructor and composer; and the “Solfeggi,” which he composed for the use of the vocal students, in the conservatorio over which he presided at Naples, are still eagerly sought and studied, not only in Italy, but in every part of Europe, where singing is regularly taught. This great musician died about 1742. His death was unhappily precipitated by an accident which at first was thought trivial; for, having a tumour, commonly called a bur, on his right cheek, which growing, in process of time, to a considerable magnitude, he was advised to have it taken off; but whether from the unskilfulness of the operator, or a bad habit of body, a mortification ensued, which cost him his life. 1

1

Barney’s Hist, of Music, vol. IV. aud the same in Rees’s Cyclopædia.