Giovanni Gabrieli: CDs & DVDs: Best CDs & DVDs of Giovanni Gabrieli

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Giovanni Gabrieli: CDs & DVDs - The Best CDs & DVDs of Giovanni Gabrieli




Giovanni Gabrieli: Overview


Giovanni Gabrieli: Giovanni Gabrieli (b. Venice, 1557?; d. Venice, 12 Aug 1612).



Giovanni Gabrieli was born about the middle of the 1550s (the usually given year is 1557, but this is not certain) and studied with his uncle. He too went to Munich to work with Lassus, arriving there about 1575, and serving as a musician at the Bavarian court for several years. Like his uncle, he was unknown when he went there, but within months of his arrival he published some madrigals and gradually became well known as a composer. He returned to Venice some time before 1584, in which year Andrea arranged for him to act as temporary replacement of the other organist, Merulo, who had left quite suddenly. This led to his permanent appointment from the 1st January, 1585 and he was in the service of St Mark's until his death. The two Gabrielis were colleagues for only a short time, but after Andrea Gabrieli's death, Giovanni Gabrieli took his place as the principal composer of grand ceremonial music. He also held the post as part-time organist to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, a religious confraternity which prided itself on the sumptuous music performed on the day of its patron saint. This further allowed Giovanni Gabrieli scope as a composer of large-scale music, a role which he fulfilled splendidly for twenty-five years.



In the earlier years after Giovanni Gabrieli's return to Venice, he wrote some madrigals, mainly for publisher's anthologies, but partly in response to the demand for music in plays which were performed in front of the Doge at various festivities. His greatest efforts, however, were in the field of church music, where he developed many of his uncle's techniques, notably those in the use of cori spezzati and in the idiomatic writing for instruments. He went further than Andrea Gabrieli in this, composing music for a large ensemble of instruments - mainly cornetts, violins and sackbuts - without voices, his most famous piece being the Sonata pian e forte, not in fact the first to use expression marks or to specify the actual orchestration, as has sometimes been maintained, but a fine work meant probably to express the mystery of the reincarnation at the Elevation of the Host in the Mass.



Giovanni Gabrieli collected much of his music in a publication of Sacrae Symphoniae (1597). By this time he was extremely well known, more especially in Germany, from where he began to receive a number of pupils. He wrote some works for the court at Graz, and seems to have had connections with people at Augsburg and Nuremberg, amongst other places. He set his pupils the task of writing madrigals in a mannerist style, and his own work reflects his interest in the forward-looking music of Monteverdi, for he composed a number of highly emotional motets, full of strange dissonance and melody, expressing the fear of death and damnation. But other works show his flair for the grand manner, in which he now used solo voices, the chorus and a veritable orchestra in a way anticipating the music of Purcell and others. He had some financial troubles in these later years and suffered from a kidney stone. He died in 1612. Among his last pupils was Schiitz, to whom he gave his ring on his death bed. He left many of his works unpublished, but they were collected by one of his pupils and also his confessor, who saw them through the press in 1615. Manuscript copies are also to be found in the collection of the court at Kassel, where Schiitz worked for many years, and it was in Germany that his main influence was continued. In Venice he was soon forgotten; but Schiitz remembered him forty years later with these words: 'Giovanni Gabrieli - what a man was he.'



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