Niccolo Piccinni, (1728-1800) was an Italian composer who, for a time in Paris in the 1770s and 1780’s rivalled Christoph Willibald von Gluck in immediate influence, but has languished in long-term popularity.
He was an extremely popular composer of operas and sacred works in Italy before venturing to Paris in 1776, where his success brought about a “war of the Gluckists and the Piccinnists” that occasionally came to blows (though not, it seems, between the two gentlemen concerned - Gluck at least is known to have enjoyed Piccinni's work.) Piccinni was forced back to Italy by the French Revolution, returned to Paris in 1798, but died there, in poverty, in 1800.
He wrote many successful operas in both Italy and France, was flexible in both style and form, moving between the tragic and the comic according to the needs of the audience, and was admired for the elegance of his writing. Whilst now not a major figure like Gluck, his operas are still occasionally performed, and at least four of them are currently on CD.