Uccellini's life is poorly known. Born at Forlimpopoli, Forlì, he studied in the Assisi seminary. He became musical director (Capo degl’instrumentisti) of the Este court in Modena from 1641 to 1662, and was the musical director (maestro di cappella) of the Modena cathedral from 1647 to 1665. Afterwards he served as maestro di cappella at the Farnese court in Parma until his death. At the Farnese court, he composed operas and ballets, but none of this music survives; thus, he is mainly known today for his instrumental music.
Uccellini was one of a line of distinguished Italian violinist-composers in the first half of the 17th century. His sonatas for violin and continuo contributed to the development of an idiomatic style of writing for the violin (including virtuosic runs, leaps, and forays into high positions), expanding the instrument's technical capabilities and expressive range. Like other 17th-century Italian sonatas, Uccellini's consist of short contrasting sections (frequently dances) that flow one into another. Uccellini's innovations influenced a generation of Austro-German violinist-composers including Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Heinrich Ignaz Biber, and Johann Jakob Walther.
Uccellini mainly composed instrumental music, of which seven collections were published. Some examples are:
- Sonate, sinfonie et correnti, Op. 2 (1639)
- Sonate, arie et correnti, Op. 3 (Venice, 1642)
- Sonate, correnti et arie, Op. 4
- Sonate, over canzoni, Op. 5 (1649)
- Salmi a 1, a 3, 4, et a 5 concertati parte con istromenti e parte senza con Letanie della Beata Vergine Concertate a 5 con istromenti, Op. 6 (Venice, 1654)
- Ozio regio, Op. 7
- Sinfonie Boscarecie, Op. 8, a collection of 37 small pieces for violin and basso continuo joined ad libitum by a second and third violins. The first edition of the sheet music was printed in Venice in 1660 but a version reprinted in Antwerp in 1669 was used in the freely available version Sinfonie Boscarecie
- Sinfonici concerti brevi e facili, Op. 9
Contributions as violinist
Uccellini contributed to the left-hand technique by introducing the sixth position. He was also one of the first to use scordatura. His publication Sonate over canzoni (1649) is reckoned as the first publication devoted solely to music for solo violin and continuo.
- Marco Uccellini: Atti del Convegno "Marco Uccellini… e la sua musica" editors Maria Caraci Vela and Marina Toffetti, Lucca 1999. Record of conference in Forlimpopoli, 1996. The first study devoted to this composer. Bibliography
- Marco Uccellini: Sonatas. Performed by Romanesca, a trio with Andrew Manze (violin), Nigel North (theorbo, archlute, Baroque guitar), and John Toll (harpsichord, organ) and excellent liner notes by Manze. Released in 1999. Harmonia Mundi 907196
- Marco Uccellini: La Hortensia Virtuosa. Performed by Bob van Asperen (harpsichord), Lucy Van Dael (violin), Jaap ter Linden (cello), and Toyohiko Satoh (lute). Released in 2007. Aeolus 10096
- Uccellini works Altri instrumenti ensemble plays Uccellini
- Works by or about Marco Uccellini in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Free scores by Marco Uccellini at the International Music Score Library Project