Steffani, Agostino

, an eminent musical composer, was born in 1655, as the German authorities say, at Leipsic, but Handel and the Italians make him a native of Castello Franco, in the Venetian state. In his youth he was a chorister of St. Mark’s, where his voice was so much admired by a German nobleman, that, obtaining his dismission, he took him to Munich in Bavaria, and had him educated, not only in music under the celebrated Bernabei, but in literature and theology sufficient, as was there thought, for priest’s orders; in consequence of which, after ordination, he was distinguished by the title of abate, or abbot, which he retained until late in life, when he was elected bishop of Spiga. In 1671, at the age of nineteen, he published his “Psalms,” in ei^ht parts. He likewise published “Sonate a quattroStromenti,” but his chamber duets are the most celebrated of his works, and indeed, of that species of writing. In his little tract, “Delia certezza Dei principii della Musica,” he has treated the subject of musical | imitation and expression, according to Martini, like a philosopher, and agreeable to mathematical principles. This work was so admired in Germany, that it was translated into the language of that country, and reprinted eight times. He composed several operas likewise between the years 1695 and 1699, for the court of Hanover, where he resided many years as maestro di capella, and these were afterwards translated into German, and performed to his music at Hamburgh. About 1724, after he had quitted the court of Hanover, where he is s;dd to have resigned his office in favour of Handel, he was elected president of the academy of ancient music at London. In 1729, he went into Italy to see his native country and relations, but returned next year to Hanover; and soon after having occasion to go to Francfort, he was seized with an indisposition, of which he died there in a few days, aged near eighty. There are, perhaps, no compositions more correct, or fugues in which the subjects are more pleasing, or answers and imitations more artful, than are to be found in the duets of StefFani, which, in a collection made for queen Caroline, and now in the possession of his majesty, amount to near one hundred. 1


Burney’s Hist, of Music; but more fully in Hawkins’s.