Born to a noble Venetian family, Maddalena Laura Lombardini was accepted to the Ospedale dei Mendicanti as a music student at age seven. There her studies included voice, violin, and keyboard instruments. At fourteen, she began to study with violinist-composer Giuseppe Tartini, who later became her benefactor. Although professional women instrumentalists were rare at the time, Maddalena was determined to build her career. Marrying violinist Ludovico Sirmen in 1768 allowed her to leave Venice to tour Europe and perform alongside her husband. In the years following their marriage she composed several chamber works, including six string trios. Published in 1770, these two-movement sonatas for two violins and cello are innovative in their treatment of the rondo finale, in which the composer often alternates time signatures for the theme and episodes.
That same year, Maddalena and her husband separated. While she continued to London to perform as a violinist and later opera singer, Ludovico and the couple’s baby daughter settled in Ravenna. Maddalena remained financially independent throughout her life, which was unusual for women at the time. She retired a wealthy woman and subsequently returned to Venice, where she remarried and adopted a daughter at the age of 50.
– Sallynee Amawat