Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 April 2011
SACCHINI, Antonio Maria Gaspare, born at Pozzuoli, near Naples, on July 23, 1734. This ‘graceful, elegant, and judicious composer’ as Burney calls him, who enjoyed great contemporary fame, and was very popular in this country, was the son of poor fisherpeople who had no idea of bringing him up to any life but their own. It chanced however that Durante heard the boy sing some popular airs, and was so much struck with his voice and talent that he got him admitted into the Conservatorio of San Onofrio, at Naples. Here he learned the violin from Niccolo Forenza, and acquired a considerable mastery over the instrument, which he subsequently turned to good account in his orchestral writing. He studied singing with Gennaro Manna; harmony and counterpoint with Durante himself, who esteemed him highly, holding him up to his other pupils, among whom were Jommelli, Piccinni and Guglielmi, as their most formidable rival. Durante died in 1755, and in the following year Sacchini left the Conservatorio, but not until he had produced an Intermezzo, in two parts, ‘Fra Donato,’ very successfully performed by the pupils of the institution. For some years he supported himself by teaching singing, and writing little pieces for minor theatres, till, in 1762, he wrote a serious opera for the Argentina theatre at Rome. This was so well received that he remained for seven years attached to the theatre as composer, writing operas not only for Rome but many other towns.