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An immersive exhibition and an extraordinary display of violins to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the death of Giovanni Battista Viotti
The Arca Exhibition Center in Vercelli is preparing to welcome, from 13 April to 2 June 2024, the exhibition “VIOTTI E STRADIVARI. The search for perfection”, dedicated to the figure of the composer Giovanni Battista Viotti two hundred years after his death.
This exhibition, curated by Guido Rimonda, violinist and scholar, offers an immersion in the life and art of Viotti, emphasized by the presence of four extraordinary Stradivarius violins that were owned by him. An event that combines multimedia narrative, thanks to the voice of actor Pierpaolo Spollon, and the physical presentation of the instruments.

The exhibition is divided into different sections: from the multimedia narration, which includes dialogues and music, to the violin vault, open to the public at specific times, up to the reconstruction of a violin making workshop in the Pettenati Chapel. The instruments on display, including the famous “ex Viotti” from 1704, testify to the intimate relationship between Viotti and the Stradivari.

There is more

At the same time, the XXVI Viotti Festival will see performances by artists of international caliber such as Guido Rimonda and Uto Ughi, who will interpret works by Viotti on Stradivari and Guarneri instruments. In addition to these musical events, there are over 40 collateral events, including theatre, conferences and workshops, as well as the possibility of tasting the special Viotti Risotto, a culinary creation dedicated to the event.

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Giovanni Battista Viotti, also better known as Giovambattista Viotti, Giovan Battista Viotti or with the pseudonyms Alfredo Vincenzo or Alberto Fabrizio, was born on 12 May 1755 in Fontanetto Po, in the territory of the Kingdom of Sardinia at the time, and died on 3 March 1824 in London. Viotti distinguished himself as an Italian violinist, composer and theater director, leaving an indelible mark on the musical world. In recognition of his contribution, the city of Vercelli has hosted the GB Viotti International Music Competition annually since 1950 and, since 1998, the Viotti Festival.

Viotti was born into a modest family; his father, Felice Viotti, was a blacksmith who also cultivated a passion for music, an element that played a fundamental role in the early years of musical training of the young Giovanni Battista. After catching the attention of a bishop during a performance in Strambino (or Ivrea), Viotti was advised to move to Turin to study music under the guidance of eminent figures such as the violinist Celoniati and later Gaetano Pugnani, who became his main mentor .

Viotti's career took a significant turn when, together with Pugnani, he undertook a European tour in 1780, performing in cities such as Geneva, Bern, Dresden, Berlin, and finally in St. Petersburg before Catherine II. After a brief stop in Berlin, Viotti separated from Pugnani and settled in Paris, where he quickly established himself as one of the most influential violinists thanks to his exceptional skill as both a performer and a composer.

During his first period in Paris, Viotti was involved in the opera and concert scene, contributing significantly to the city's musical landscape. He became known for his performances at the Concert Spirituel and for his collaborations with prominent musicians, such as the cellist Jean-Louis Duport. However, the French Revolution forced him to move to London in 1792, where he continued his concert career and also began a business in the wine business.

His return to Paris in 1818 marked the beginning of a new chapter in his career, with the direction of the Opéra and the Théâtre Italien. Despite the challenges and controversies, Viotti left a lasting mark on the world of French opera. His death in London in 1824 ended a life dedicated to music, but his legacy continues to influence musicians and enthusiasts around the world.

Among his most significant contributions is the collection of Stradivari violins he owned, including the “Jupiter” from 1700 and the “Viotti; ex-Bruce” of 1709, testifying to the deep bond between Viotti and the instruments of Antonio Stradivari. His music, particularly his violin concertos and chamber music, remains a point of reference in the evolution of the violin repertoire.
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Source: Press release

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