Thousands of English-speaking students are only familiar with this composer through a poem by Robert Browning entitled “A Toccata of Galuppi’s.” Few of these students had an inkling of who he was or had ever heard a note of his music. This is in keeping with the poem in which the toccata stands as a symbol of a vanished world. Although he was famous throughout his life and died a very rich man, soon after his death he was almost entirely forgotten until Browning resurrected his name (and memory) in his 1855 poem. He belonged to a generation of composers that included Christoph Willibald Gluck, Domenico Scarlatti, and CPE Bach, whose works were emblematic of the prevailing galant style that developed in Europe throughout the 18th century. In his early career he made a modest success in opera seria (serious opera), but from the 1740s, together with the playwright and librettist Carlo Goldoni, he became famous throughout Europe for his opera buffa (comic opera) in the new dramma giocoso (playful drama) style. To the succeeding generation of composers he became known as “the father of comic opera,” although some of his mature opera seria were also widely popular.
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