Bartolomeo Bortolazzi

famous mandolinist and composer all over Europe

B. Bortolazzi

Bartolomeo Bortolazzi was born in 1772, 3 March, in Toscolano (now Toscolano Maderno in the province of Brescia), a beutiful village grown in the western shore of Garda Lake. This fact is apparent from the "Book of Baptized from 1695 to 1775" preserved in the Parish of Toscolano.
His parents were Domenico di Giacomo and Apollonia Lombardi.
At that time Toscolano, as almost its entire province, was in the Venice Republic. It was flourishing especially in the craft of paper, that became a real industry in subsequent years.
Bartolomeo was launched to follow in the footsteps of his father Domenico to learn the craft of "Cartaio" (apper-maker), but his passion for music and mandolin was more important to him.
In fact when only 18 years in 1790, he left his hometown to arrive in Countries and cities of the North Italy, with his friends Bazzani and Lena, guitar players, and Pietro Ferrari, a singer of comic arias, making concerts in squares, taverns and theaters.
They had been successful, a fact that led them to cross borders and move to France, where they could repeat their successes.
The incoming Revolution, which upset France and Europe, forced them to return to Toscolano.
But soon after they dedided to leave for Tyrol, and from there into Austria, visiting the cities of the most important cities of Empire coming finally to Vienna.
Even in this city there were significant successes and awards.
Here Bartolomeo had the good luck to meet the ".. renowned pianist Colò of Riva di Trento who, impressed by his talent, pushed him to start a serious musical and literary training."
This training was conducted by Bartolomeo were with love and discipline.
At about 1794 Bortolazzi married Margaret Leonardi. In 1795 he was living again in Toscolano, where his wife became pregnant. Their son was born on March, 29th 1796 and was called Giacomo Giuseppe (James Joseph).
The birth of his son and the studies under the guidance of the mecenate Colò di Riva di Trento, gave a strong outburst to his career.
Bortolazzi, endowed with an extraordinary talent, in Vienna was already among the most famous mandolinist in Europe.
In 1799 Bortolazzi moved to London, perhaps invited by a Masonic Lodge. Here he lived until 1803; here also he perfected his skill on the guitar, studying with local teachers.
Indeed, at the British Museum, there are some vocal compositions dedicated to the "Brothers of the Lodge of Pilgrims."
In London he met also, in 1799, the young Slovak composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837), who dedicated to him the famous concert for mandolin and orchestra (now available at the British Museum).
Evidently the young Hummel was fascinated by the virtuosity of Bortolazzi, much to dedicate the concert, that in drawing, affected councils that were suggested by Bortolazzi, especially as regards how to deal with the writing instrument. After 1803 he moved to Germany for his concert activity, living for some years in Braunschweig and Berlin. In about 1805 he moved to Vienna, where he had success as a composer and a teacher. He died, probably in Vienna, in the first decades of the 1800's, but the exact year of his death is unknown.

Besided his several works for mandolin, Bortolazzi wrote many chamber pieces calling for the guitar, generally variations and songs for voice and guitar accompaniment. He also wrote a Method for the guitar.

Guitar Works of Bartolomeo Bortolazzi

  1. Six Italian Arias Op. 5, voice & guitar

    VI / Airs italiens / avec accompagnemente de la guitarre / composées et dediées / a Madame la Baronne de Braun / par / Barthelemy Bortolazzi, 1803, Bureau D'arts et Industries (Vienna).
    Source: Archivio Toggenburg, Bolzano

  2. Variations Op. 8, mandolin & guitar

    ~1804, Breitkopf & Hartel (Lipsia). Source: Archivio Toggenburg, Bolzano

  3. Variations Op. 10, mandolin & guitar

    ~1804, Breitkopf & Hartel (Lipsia). Source: Archivio Toggenburg, Bolzano

  4. Six Italian Arias Op. 11, voice & guitar

    Simrock (Bonn, Vienna). Source: Archivio Toggenburg, Bolzano

  5. Variations Op. 13, guitar & violin

    Simrock (Bonn). Source: Archivio Toggenburg, Bolzano

  6. Variations Op. 15, flute & guitar

    Source: Archivio Toggenburg, Bolzano

  7. Variazioni Concertanti Op. 19 (guitar & piano)

    XII / Variations concertantes / pour guitare et pianoforte / par / B.Bortolazzi ~1805, Bureau D'arts et Industries (Vienna).
    Source: Bibliothek Gesellschaft Musikfreunde Wien

  8. Method Op. 21

    Haslinger (Vienna). Source: Archivio Toggenburg, Bolzano

  9. Cavatina "Dunque mio breve..." (two voices & guitar)

    Duetto / Dunque mio breve / del Sig.Zingarelli / coll'accompagnamento di chitarra del Sig.Bortolazzi, ~1816, Cappi (Vienna).
    Source: Biblioteca Conservatorio, Milano

  10. Twelve Arias, guitar

    Concha (Berlin). Source: Archivio Toggenburg, Bolzano

  11. Rondo, guitar & piano

    Concha (Berlin). Source: Archivio Toggenburg, Bolzano

  12. Six Venetian Songs, voice & guitar

    ~1803, Chappell (London). Source: Archivio Toggenburg, Bolzano

  13. Six French Romances, voice & guitar

    Concha (Berlin). Source: Archivio Toggenburg, Bolzano

  14. Sonata, guitar & piano

    ~1811, Peters (Lipsia). Source: Archivio Toggenburg, Bolzano

  15. Variations, guitar & violin

    Spehr (Brunswich). Source: Archivio Toggenburg, Bolzano

  16. Variations, guitar

    XII Variations / pour la guitarre / composée et dediée / a Madame la Comtesse de Paffy / née Comtesse de Hoios / par / B.Bortolazzi, ~1809, Cappi (Vienna). Source: Biblioteca Fondazione Levi Venezia

Bibliographic notes