Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Composer, born at Magolati, near Jesi, Ancona, 14 Nov., 1774; died there, 14 Jan., 1851. He was intended for the Church, but decided on a musical career. In 1791 he entered the Conservatorio de' Turchini at Naples, where he had Sala, Tritto, and Tarantino as masters, and soon displayed his skill in composition. Between the years 1796 and 1799 he had written six operas, which were duly produced in Rome and Florence, and in 1800 succeeded Cimarosa as Court composer at Palermo. In 1803 he settled in Paris, and for a time did not make any marked impression, but in 1804 his "Milton" (one-act opera) attracted considerable attention, and his triumph was assured by the production of "La Vestale" (15 Dec., 1807) and "Fernando Cortez" (28 November, 1809). He was appointed conductor of Italian Opera at the Odéon in 1810, and brought forward many notable works by various composers. His "Olympic" (15 Dec., 1819) he regarded as his best opera, yet it was not a success at first. At length after considerable revision he again presented it on 28 Feb., 1826, when his judgment was finally endorsed by the public.

Removing in 1820 to Berlin, where he was appointed chief Kapellmeister at a salary of 4000 thalers annually and a yearly benefit concert, he composed music for Moore's "Lalla Rookh", produced at the Royal Palace on 27 Jan., 1821. His "Agnes von Hohenstaufen" got its first hearing on 12 June, 1829. In 1829 he received the honorary doctorate of Halle University, and in 1834 he conducted a performance of his "Vestale" at Hamburg. He visited his native place in 1835, and journeyed to England in 1838, returning to Paris, where he was made a member of the Institute in the same year. A revised version of his "Agnes" was given in 1837, after which he ceased writing operas. In 1842 he left Berlin for good (being succeeded by Meyerbeer), and went to Rome, where many distinctions awaited him. The pope created him Count of St. Andrea in 1844, in which year he returned to Paris. That year is memorable for a visit to Dresden, on which occasion Richard Wagner got up his "Vestale" conducted by the composer. Feeling his end approaching he retired to Magolati in 1850. Although he loomed so large in the first half of the last century, Spontini's music is now almost on the top shelves. He was not a very loveable personality owing to his egotism, pride, and bad temper, but he was generous to needy musicians and at his death he bequeathed all his property for charitable purposes.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:7-16
7 On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in whatever way Christ ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they said to me, 'Let us go ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:1-9
1 It was just about this time that some people arrived and told him about ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 22nd, 2016 Image

St. Pope John Paul II
October 22: Karol J. Wojtyla, known as John Paul II since his ... Read More