Massimo Lonardi is a popular lutenist who appears in concert both as a soloist and as a member of chamber ensembles. But like many lutenists, Lonardi also plays other related stringed instruments, including the guitar and vihuela. He is also true to historic practices: when he plays Renaissance-era guitar music, for instance, he uses a Renaissance guitar, which is smaller and has only four, instead of six strings. In all instrumental roles he has focused primarily on Renaissance-era music. In lute repertory Lonardi has paid particular attention to the works of Italian composers, including Francesco Canova da Milano, Joan Ambrosio Dalza, Vincenzo Capirola, Pietro Paulo Borrono, and a host of others. Lonardi has also shown a preference for the lute music of English composer John Dowland and the vihuela works of Spaniard Luis de Milán. But his tastes are not limited to the music of just a few countries: his repertory includes works by Frenchman Adrien Le Roy, Franco-Flemish Jakob Arcadelt, German-Italian Johann (Giovanni) Kapsberger, and Augsburg, Germany-born Grégoire Brayssing. Though Lonardi is very active as a performer, he also finds time to teach: he is a professor of lute performance at the Istituto Superiore di Studi Musicali in Pavia and also at the Venice-based Scuola di Musica Antica di Venezia. Lonardi has made a number of recordings, many of which are available on Stradivarius, Nuova Era, Teldec, Erato, Jecklin, Edelweiss, and Agora.
Massimo Lonardi was born in Milan in 1953. He enrolled at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan, where he studied guitar with Ruggero Chiesa and composition with Azio Corghi. Following graduation he turned to studies on the lute with Hopkinson Smith.
Lonardi soon began making solo appearances in lute repertory, confining his career mostly to Europe, however. By the early '90s he was celebrated throughout the continent, with scores of critically acclaimed lute and guitar recordings to his credit. In 1999 he was awarded first prize in the instrumental category from the prestigious Italian magazine Musica e Dischi (Music and Discs) for his Agora CD containing works by John Dowland.
Most of his recordings since the mid-'90s have appeared on the Nuova Era and Stradivarius labels. In the new century Lonardi has remained active both as a concert performer and teacher. Among his later recordings is the 2009 Stradivarius CD, 6 Books of Music for the Vihuela.