Pedro António Avondano (1714-1782)

Pedro António Avondano (1714-1782)

Born in Lisbon on April 16, 1714, Pedro Antonio Avondano began his musical studies with his father Pietro Giorgio Avondano, Genoese virtuous violinist, one of the many Italian musicians employed at the time, for the King John V service who intended an Italian aesthetic at the Portuguese court.

Pietro Avondano lived in Lisbon, since 19 years old, and he was a member of the Royal Chapel Orchestra. Like his father, Pedro Antonio Avondano joined this orchestra, in 1763, were he had violinist functions.

As a composer, Avondano was one of the first Portuguese musicians to gain reputation among musicians of the court of King José I.

Joseph Mazza, author of "Biographical Dictionary of Portuguese musicians," said shortly after the death of Avondano that this "was chamber fiddle of His Majesty and an excellent composer. His music had great harmony and was very gently. He composed the Psalms, Mass a Te Deum, many instruments sonatas and harpsichord sonatas. He also composed the music of the burlesque opera "Il Mondo della Luna",  performed in the presence of Salvaterra Most Worshipful Mr. Joseph I, and had great acceptance. "

 In 1742 gives the premiere in Macerata (Italy), his serious opera "Berenice". The cantata "Le Difese d'Amore" was sung at the Ajuda Palace in 1764, at the Marquis of Pombal marriage. One year after the Carnival 1765,the comic opera "Il Mondo della Luna" with libretto by Carlo Goldoni, was premiered at the Royal Palace of Salvaterra, becoming the first opera of a Portuguese composer to be represented in court.

The libretto of this opera was widely used by other composers, as is the case of Baldassare Galuppi in 1750, Giovanni Paisiello in 1774, Gennaro Astaritta in 1775, and Franz Joseph Haydn in 1777.

By this time, both the nobility and the families of greater fortune were hiring the services of the most famous and virtuous of the country so they can offer his guests with the best possible musical entertainment.

Some of these professional musicians were also teachers of the young people of these families and at the same time the authors of a vast musical repertoire specifically for this growing circle of private lounges. This way, the music for small chamber ensembles as well for a soloist and bass instrument still or even solo sonatas for key were the subject of great demand, having emerged a large number of chamber works that circulated freely.

Avondano, Real House violinist enjoyed a high reputation within the English colony in Portugal. This considerable fame made happen  two collections of his "Lisbon Minuets" for 2 treble and bass instruments continue, in London, in the 1770’s.


    This repertoire, often simple to perform, easily adapted to the technical level of instrumentalists that was intended, excel in its graciousness, for the flowing melodies and lots of ornamentation. On the other hand, the Avondano ‘s key board sonatas reveal a very expressive composer and sometimes melancholic, where the ornamental grace is a constant. Their sonatas require, in most cases, a great technical preparation by the performer, and sometimes an impressive virtuosism, very rapid figurations, scales, arpeggios and jumps.

In the early 1760’s, Avondano was one of the most influential capital musicians, and after the earthquake of 1755, played a major role in the reorganization of the Brotherhood of Santa Cecilia, professional association, to which all professional musicians of the time were required to belong by law . Avondano was elected secretary of the institution during the inaugural session, held in his home June 27, 1765.

A parcel of Avondano manuscripts probably disappeared during the 1755 earthquake, but some of them come down to us being a large part of his musical estate spread across several European libraries, because Avondano organized also,in his home from 1766, a so-called club "Meeting of Foreign Nations" where the communities met, danced and played cards twice a week, sharing interests.

 Two of the works that come down to us are the symphonies in F and M in D for string orchestra. Written in Italian Opening style, with the sequence of fast-slow-fast tempos, we can enjoy a full music of freshness, liveliness and brilliance.

Avondano beyond belonging to highly paid Orchestra of the Royal House and often act as an instrumentalist in ceremonies, both religious music as secular music, organized too, especially with the English colony in Portugal, soirees and balls. This income allowed him to, in June 15, 1767 buy the Knight Degree of the Order of Christ.

However during the reign of Queen Mary I its reputation seems to have fallen in the musical circles of the court, perhaps because of his advanced age.

Pedro António Avondano died at the age of 68 in Lisbon.



by António Ferreira

This composer has 19 works on AvA:

Orchestra (3)

Ensemble (1)

Chamber Music (9)

Woodwinds (1)

Brass (1)

Strings (10)

Voice (10)

Harpsichord (2)

Collections (1)