Emanuel D’ Astorga

Emanuel D’ Astorga, well known not only by his misfortunes, but also by his church music, was born Dec. 11, 1681, at Palermo. He was the son of a distinguished baron, who was surrendered by his mercenaries in a fight against the union of the island with Spain, and was decapitated in 1701. Forced to be present with his mother at the shameful execution, he became unconscious, whilst she died from terror.

By the intercession of the Princess Ursini, he was brought into a convent at Astorga, in Leon, for which city he was afterwards named. He studied music under Scarlatti and Caldara, and in 1704 went from the convent to the court of the Duke of Parma, by whom he was highly esteemed on account of his musical talent. However, the duke soon dismissed him for a supposed relation with his daughter; but he recommended him to the Emperor Leopold.

After Leopold’s death, Astorga, supported by the Spanish court, traveled through all civilized Europe. Finally we find him in Prague. It is supposed that he entered a convent in Bohemia, and there died, Aug. 21, 1736. His masterpiece is a “Stabat Mater,” the original of which is preserved in Oxford. He composed many excellent cantatas, and an opera “Daphne,” which was represented in Prague in 1726. He also wrote a requiem.