GIOVANNI BENEDETTO PLATTI (1692 - 1763)
Giovanni Benedetto Platti was born in Padua or Venice in 1692 or 1697. He was musically educated in Venice. His teachers were most probably Francesco Gasparini, Vivaldi, Lotti and indeed Albinoni and the Marcello brothers. There is no significant information about his life before he came to Würzburg in 1722 together with a group of Italian musicians. Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn who was Prince-Bishop of Bamberg and Würzburg was deeply preoccupied with Italian music and wanted to expand the music at court. He employed a number of foreign musicians, mostly Italians. Together with Platti six further Italian musicians were employed in 1722. After the sudden death of the Prince-Bishop in 1724, conditions for the musicians at court deteriorated. The number of musicians was considerably reduced, and only two of the Italian musicians could stay on. In 1723 Platti married the soprano Maria Theresia Lambrucker. She was also employed at court. When Friedrich Carl von Schönborn, brother of Johann Philipp, was elected new Prince-Bishop in 1729, conditions improved. Platti stayed in Würzburg until his death in 1763. His wife gave birth to at least ten children. She died in 1752.
Platti was “Oboist, Violinist und Tenorist”. A list of the court musicians from 1730 shows that “Virtuos Platti” was the best paid musician, and continued to be so, despite changes of monarch. He earned twice as much as the “Kapellmeister”. Platti’s position at court was unique. He was involved in chamber and church music and served as oboist and violinist. Later on he was assigned other tasks, including pedagogical ones. In a decree of 1730 it is stated that he was to teach Johanna Wolf (daughter of the Dance Master), the castrato Busch, and (after Busch’s disappointing lack of development) the soprano Vogel. In a record from 1757 it is mentioned that two military band musicians were to stay at court in order to follow Platti’s tuition. He was thus also supposed to teach oboists.
Platti was no doubt a virtuoso. As a composer Platti is renowned for his harpsichord sonatas, numerous pieces for cello and his church music. His work has distinct pre-classical features, associated with composers such as Haydn. His melodious imagination and lively, elegant style are apparent. His slightly anonymous existence in Würzburg obviously contributed to the fact that he never gained the recognition he deserves.