Francesco Bartolomeo Conti was famous in his native Florence as a virtuoso performer on the theorbo. He became well known also in Milan and Ferrara and ultimately his reputation obviously spread abroad: in 1701 he was offered a post at the Habsburg court in Vienna as associate theorbist. There he served until 1708, except for a nine month period during which he paid a visit to England, where it is thought (1) that he was the ‘Signior Francesco’ that played at a benefit concert in London in May 1703. He also performed at the court of Queen Anne in 1707 as well as presenting a public concert with theorbo and mandolin. Conti was also recognised as a composer of opera, and in 1713 was appointed court composer, with the stipend for this as well as his position as principal theorbist, meant that he was one of the highest paid musicians in Vienna. His fortune was significantly enhanced by his second and third marriages, both to court prima donnas, Maria Landini (d. 1722) and Maria Anna Lorenzani! Apart from opera, Conti was also noted for his other secular works, often used in court entertainments, his oratorios, and some significant church music. His cantatas are especially distinguished for the use of the theorbo as an obbligato instrument.
(1) Conti, Francesco Bartolomeo, article in Grove Music, Oxford Music Online: Hermine W. Williams
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