Tommaso Giordani

Last updated

Tommaso Giordani (c. 1730 to 1733 – before 24 February 1806) was an Italian composer active in England and particularly in Ireland.



Giordani was born in Naples between 1730 and 1733 and came from a musical family. His father was Giuseppe Giordani senior, born around 1695 in Naples, died after 1762, probably in London (no relation to the Neapolitan organist Carmine Giordani b. 1685). A possible younger brother was Giuseppe Giordani (1751–1798), called "Giordanello". Tommaso was trained in Naples and moved with his father and siblings (including singer Nicolina) via Graz (1747), Salzburg and Frankfurt (1750), Amsterdam (1752) and Paris (1753) to London, where they performed four burlettas at Covent Garden in the 1753–4 season. [1] Although the family performed in London for the next two years, Tommaso is not mentioned in the newspaper reports of the time.

His whereabouts in the following eight years are unknown. In 1764, he accepted an invitation to act as musical director of the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, where he stayed for the next three years, performing comic operas and co-produced the first ever opera seria to be performed in Ireland, L'eroe cinese (1766). Following accusations of plagiarism, he went back to London in 1767, where for the next 16 years he was relatively successful as an opera composer.

From 1783, Giordani returned to live in Ireland for the remainder of his life. He was particularly active in opera, as both composer and impresario. He had a stake in the short-lived 'English Opera House', which he founded in 1783 and which produced works by Irish composers and librettists, also in a music shop, neither of which was financially successful. Among his pupils were Lady Morgan, Thomas Simpson Cooke, and John Field, the inventor of the nocturne, who made his debut at one of Giordani's Rotunda concerts (4 April 1792). He died in Dublin.


Among Giordani's compositions are a number of operas and theatrical pieces, including Genius of Ireland (1784) and The Island of Saints, or The Institution of the Shamrock (1785), the oratorio Isaac (1767), and a large quantity of overtures, sonatas, concertos, quartets (mostly string quartets, though some with flute, keyboard or guitar), trios for violin, flute and basso continuo, songs, etc. He is likely to have been composer and conductor at the Francis Street Chapel, Dublin, from approximately 1784 to 1798, and conducted a Te Deum of his own at the celebration upon the recovery of King George III, 30 April 1789. [2] His last opera, The Cottage Festival, was produced at the Theatre Royal, Dublin, 28 November 1796. Giordani composed in a tuneful, galant style and was often confronted with accusations of plagiarism.

The authorship of the popular arietta Caro mio ben (1783) is as yet uncertain. It is mostly ascribed to Tommaso, but sometimes to his father or to the younger Giuseppe Giordani. [3]

Selected works

Operas and other stage works (Dublin only)

Oratorios and cantatas (Dublin)


Orchestral music

Chamber music


Related Research Articles

Johann Schobert

Johann Schobert was a composer and harpsichordist. His date of birth is given variously as about 1720, about 1735, or about 1740, his place of birth as Silesia, Alsace, or Nuremberg. He died after eating poisonous mushrooms that he insisted were edible.

Trevor Pinnock English harpsichordist and conductor

Trevor David Pinnock is a British harpsichordist and conductor.

Josef Mysliveček

Josef Mysliveček was a Czech composer who contributed to the formation of late eighteenth-century classicism in music. Mysliveček provided his younger friend Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with significant compositional models in the genres of symphony, Italian serious opera, and violin concerto; both Wolfgang and his father Leopold Mozart considered him an intimate friend from the time of their first meetings in Bologna in 1770 until he betrayed their trust over the promise of an operatic commission for Wolfgang to be arranged with the management of the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. His closeness to the Mozart family resulted in frequent references to him in the Mozart correspondence.

James Hook (composer) Musical artist

James Hook was an English composer and organist.

Jean-Baptiste Bréval French cellist and composer

Jean-Baptiste Sebastien Bréval was a French cellist and composer. He wrote mostly for his own instrument, including pedagogical works as well as virtuoso display pieces.

Francesca Lebrun German singer and composer

Francesca Lebrun was a noted 18th-century German singer and composer. Her talent extended beyond the stage to music composition and keyboard performance. As a composer, her twelve sonatas, six each in opus 1 and opus 2, for piano or harpsichord with violin accompaniment, were first published in London, England, in 1779–1781, with further editions in London, Paris, and several German centers. The opus 1 sonatas are available in commercial recording.

Maria Hester Park was a British composer, pianist, and singer. She was also a noted piano teacher who taught many students in the nobility, including the Duchess of Devonshire and her daughters.

A solo concerto is a musical form which features a single solo instrument with the melody line, accompanied by an orchestra. Traditionally, there are three movements in a solo concerto, consisting of a fast section, a slow and lyrical section, and then another fast section. However, there are many examples of concertos that do not conform to this plan.

Polly Young was an English soprano, composer and keyboard player. She was part of a well-known English family of musicians that included several professional singers and organists during the 17th and 18th centuries. Her husband, François-Hippolyte Barthélémon, was a composer and violinist, and their daughter, Cecilia Maria Barthélemon, was also a composer and opera singer.

Cecilia Maria Barthélemon was an English singer, composer, pianist, and organist. She published sonatas and other compositions and sang professionally in musicals.

Philip Cogan was an Irish composer, pianist, and conductor.

Charles Thomas Carter was an Irish composer and organist with mixed success as an opera composer in London, but with some songs that remained popular beyond his lifetime.


  1. Klein, Axel: "Giordani, Tommaso", in: Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (MGG), biographical part, vol. 7 (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2002), cc. 990–992.
  2. Sharpe, Richard: "Tommaso Giordani, Gregorio Ballabene’s Messa a dodici cori con organo and Sacred Music in Late-Eighteenth-Century Dublin", in Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland, 11 (2016) pp. 25–35.
  3. See Paton (1981) and Zanetti (1991) in the Bibliography below.
  4. "Keyboard" here is applicable to either harpsichord, piano or organ. Towards the end of the century, the harpsichord was increasingly superseded by the piano.