Torelli was an Italian violinist and composer who was born in Verona, 22 April 1658, and died in Bologna, 8 February 1709. He was admitted to the Accademia Filarmonica in 1684, first as a violinist and later as a composer. In 1686 he became a string player at the civic church of S. Petronio, but he was obliged to leave in 1696 when the musical cappella was disbanded. He then served as maestro di concerto to the Margrave of Brandenburg at Ansbach, later moving to Vienna, but by 1701 he had returned to the re-formed S. Petronio cappella.
Torelli's undoubted importance in the early history of the concerto has been much distorted by the imposition of later definitions: for Torelli and his contemporaries the title ‘concerto’ carried no automatic implication of solo or even orchestral writing. Like his teacher, Perti, he contributed to the Bolognese repertory of trumpet sonatas which pitted soloists again the orchestral body, and in his op. 6 (1698) he distinguishes between the violin ‘solo’ and the duplicated parts, but solo–tutti markings were already a common feature of instrumental scoring in Bolognese choral works. The posthumous op. 8 collection has been noted for its division into solo concertos and concerti grossi, the use of the ritornello principle, and the three-movement fast–slow–fast format. Torelli's op. 4 for violin and violoncello contributed to the repertory of unaccompanied duos not unusual at the period.
Denis Arnold/Peter Allsop