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Francesco Antonio Bonporti (Composer)

Born: (baptised): June 11, 1672 - Trento, Italy
Died: December 19, 1749 - Padua, Italy

Francesco Antonio Bonporti was an was an Italian priest, amateur composer and violinist. Neverthless, he was an excellent instrumental composer, especially noted for his fine, flowing melodies, but was overlooked in his own time.

F.A. Bonporti was from a high-born family in Trent and chose the priesthood as his vocation, obviously expecting to rise through its ranks to higher positions. In 1691, he was admitted in the Collegium Germanicum in Rome. People in his class did not consider music as a career, so that pursuit was a vocation to him. He excelled in the humanities, philosophy, and theology. There, he studied composition under the guidance of Giuseppe Ottavio Pitoni and, although it's not confirmed, violin with Arcangelo Corelli.

After F.A. Bonporti was ordained and posted to Trent in 1695, he never attempted to gain a musical position. When he published music, he described himself as a "gentleman of Trent." He dedicated this publication to the prince bishop of Trent and was rewarded with a minor post in the cathedral.

Thereafter, F.A. Bonporti almost always dedicated his publications to some prelate or ruler who could advance him. Northern Italy was dominated by Austria and German-speaking priests had the upper hand, blocking Italians - no matter how talented or high-born - from advancement. When this dawned on Bonporti, he dared to apply as chaplain to the Emperor in Vienna, even offering to serve the first year without pay. When this failed, he was so desperate he applied for a similar position with King George I of England, a Protestant. In 1740, he left Trento for Padua to get away from the clique of Germans. Without an official position there, he lived in the apartment of a fellow priest until his death. His last a publication of ten works dedicated to Empress Maria Theresia of Austria did him no good. He died an embittered man in 1749.

F.A. Bonporti's musical work is comprised of twelve opera, published between 1696 and 1736.

J.S. Bach Connection

J.S. Bach's connection with this talented priest-musician, who published several collections of music in a persistent but vain attempt to gain clerical promotion, is at first sight fortuitous: Alfred DörffeI included four 'Inventions' from F.A. Bonporti's Op. 10 (1712), a set of sonatas for violin and continuo, in volume 45 of the BG edition, misled by their unusual title and by an attribution to J.S. Bach in a manuscript. In 1911, musicologist Werner Wolffheim proved that these four works were really by F.A. Bonporti, and that J.S. Bach had transcribed them for harpsichord. F.A. Bonporti influenced J.S. Bach in the development of the invention, and the latter may have even borrowed F.A. Bonporti's title (if not its precise significance) for his own keyboard works, just as the 'Ecco' movement in Bonporti's tenth Invention may lie behind the similarly titled movement in the Ouverture in the French Style in B minor, BWV 831.

Musicians curiously sought out the music of this unknown composer good enough to be mistaken for the master. They found a composer of high skills, great originality, and even daring, with very accomplished part writing, where all voices are generously highly melodic in their own right. His weakness is that he wrote in different styles to please a diverse bunch of highly connected dedicatees, so he did not develop his own individual "sound."


Here's a listing of his twelve opera, first the Italian original generally by Giuseppe Sala in Venice, then the French edition as published by Estienne Roger in Amsterdam and finally the English edition by John Walsh in London. Notice not every opus seem to have survived in all languages. As listed in an article published by Studi Trentini in 1973, author Clemente Lunelli. His sources on European editions are François Lesure's Bibliographie des éditions musicales publiées par Estienne Roger..., Paris, 1969, and William C. Smith's A bibliography of the musical works published by John Walsh..., London, 1968.

Op. 1 - Suonate a Tre. Due violini, e violoncello obligato..., 1696. Four parts.
- Antoine Bomporti Gentilhomme di Trento opera prima, Sonate à tre, due Violini, Violoncello e basso continuo. N. 101, 1706, f. 4.0
Op. 2 -
- Antonio Bomporti di Trento, opera seconda, Sonate da Camera à tre, due Violini e Basso continuo. N. 292, 1701, f. 3.10
- Bonporti's Sonata or Chamber Aires in three Parts for two Violins and a Through Bass compos'd by Francisco Antonio Bomporti Opera Seconda (...) N. 266, c. 1708
- Bomporti's Sonata or Chamber Aires (...) Opera Seconda. (...), N. 482, c. 1715
Op. 3 - Motetti a canto solo, con violini (...), 1702. Five parts.
Op. 4 -
- Antonio Bomporti Opera Quarta, Sonate da Camera à tre, due Violini e basso continuo, N. 38, 1706, f. 40
- Bomporti's Sonata or Chamber Aires (...) Opera Quarto (sic) (...), N. 267, c. 1708
Op. 5 Arie, baletti e correnti c. 1704 (not extant)
Op. 6 -
- Antonio Bomporti, opera sexta, Sonate da Camera à tre, due Violini e basso continuo, N. 38, 1706, f. 4.0
Op. 7 -
- Bomporti opera settima sonate à Violino solo e basso continuo, N. 303, c. 1707-1708, f. 3.0
- 10 Solos by Bomporti for a Violin and a Bass, (Walsh, P. Randall, J. Hare) N. 277d, 1708
- (?)Bomportis Solos, for a Violin and a Bass, 4s. od., (Walsh) N. 603, c. 1720 or earlier
Op. 8 - (given as lost)
- Antonio Bomporti opera ottava, le Triomphe de la grande Aliance à Violon et basse continue, N. 120, c. 1708-1712, f. 2.0; also mentioned as Le Triomphe de la grande Aliance, consistent en cent Menuets, composez par Mr. Bomporti opera VIII
Op. 9 -
- Bomporti opera nona, Baletti à Violino solo e basso continuo,N. 413, f. 1.0; after 1716
Op. 10 - Invenzioni a violino solo del (...), Venice-Trento, Giovanni Parone, 1713. Partiture.
- Bomporti opera dècima inventione a Violino solo, e basso contin. (La Pace), N. 404, c. 1712-1715, f. 4.0
Op. 11 - Concerti a quattro, due violini, alto viola, e basso con violino di rinforzo Trento, Giambattista Monauni, circa 1715. Five parts
Op. 12 - Concertini e serenate con arie variate, siciliane, recitativi, e chiuse a violino, e violoncello, o cembalo, Habsburg, Johann Christian Leopold. Partiture.
Aria cromatica, e variata a violino violoncello, e cembalo..., manuscript in the library of the Bruxelles conservatoire, dated 1720. Partiture.
Sonata di Buonporti, manuscript, same as above. Two parts.
Six Sonate à deux Flutes et Basse continue, composées par Bomporti et transposées sur la Flute par Corbet, N. 65, c. 1707-1708, f. 3.0

Source: All Music Guide Website (Author: Joseph Stevenson); Wikipedia Website; Malcom Boyd, editor: Oxford Composer Companion J.S. Bach (Oxford University Press, 1999, Article author: Michael Talbot)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2008)

Works previously attributed to J.S. Bach

Invention for violin & keyboard in B minor, BWV Anh 173
Invention for violin & keyboard in B major, BWV Anh 174
Invention for violin & keyboard in C minor, BWV Anh 175
Invention for violin & keyboard in D major, BWV Anh 176

Links to other Sites

Francesco Antonio Bonporti (Wikipedia)
HOASM: Francesco Antonio Bonporti
Francesco Antonio Bonporti (Karadar)
Francesco Antonio Bonporti (Spiritus Temporis)
Francesco Antonio Bonporti (P&P Music)

Francesco Antonio Bonporti (Britannica Online Encyclopedia)
Francesco Antonio Bonporti (Nation Maste)
Francesco Antonio Bonporti (
Francesco Antonio Bonporti (Classical Composer Database)


A.J.B. Hutchings: The Baroque Concerto (London, 1961; 3rd edition, 1973).

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Last update: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 09:01