Giovanni Battista Sammartini (1700/1701 – 17th January 1775) was an Italian composer, organist, choirmaster, and teacher.
Sammartini was born to French emigrant and oboist Alexis Saint-Martin and Girolama de Federici in Milan, in what was Austria during most of his lifetime and Italy today. He was the seventh of eight children. He received musical instruction from his father and wrote his first work in 1725, which was a set of vocal works (now lost). Not long afterwards, in 1728, he acquired the position of maestro di cappella of the Congregazione.
He counted Christophe Gluck among his students, and was highly regarded by younger composers including Johann Christian Bach. Sammartini is especially associated with the formation of the concert symphony through both the shift from a brief opera-overture style and the introduction of a new seriousness and use of thematic development that prefigure Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Sammartini’s death in 1775 was unexpected. Although he was highly regarded in his time, his music was quickly forgotten, and Sammartini wasn’t restudied until 1913. Most of his surviving works have been recovered from published editions from outside his hometown of Milan.
He is often confused with his brother, Giuseppe Baldassare Sammartini, a composer with a similarly prolific output.
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