A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Gabrieli

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GABRIELI, a family of great Italian musicians.

1. Andrea, celebrated contrapuntist, born about 1510, in the quarter of Venice called Canareggio. He was a pupil of Adrian Willaert, maestro di capella of St. Mark's (1527–62). In 1536 he entered the Doge's choir; in 66 succeeded Claudio Merulo as second organist of St. Mark's; and at the time of his death, 1586, was first organist. His fame spread not only throughout Italy, but also to Germany and the Netherlands. His three best-known pupils were his nephew Giovanni, Leo Hassler, and Peter Sweelinck. In 1574 the Republic commissioned him to write the music to be performed at the reception of Henry III. King of France; for which occasion he composed several pieces, one being for 12 voices in 2 choirs, 'Ecco Vinegia bella,' printed in the 'Gemma Musicalis' (Venice, Gardano, 1588). Though much addicted to counterpoint, his style is elevated and dignified. His finest work is 'Psalmi Davidici poenitentiales, tum omnis generis instrumentorum, tum ad vocis modulationum accomodati, sex vocum' (Venice 1583). Among his numerous compositions may be mentioned—'Sacrae cantiones quinque vocum, liber primus' (1565); 'Missarum sex vocum, liber primus' (1570); 'Madrigali a 5 voci, liber primus,' containing 24 adrigals and 6 canzoni (1572); 'Libro secondo di Madrigali a 5 e 6 voci, con un dialogo da 8' (1572); 'Canzoni alla francese per l'organo' (1571); and 'Canti concerti a 6, 7, 8, 10, e 16 voci' (1587). In the last are some pieces by his nephew. His organ music was printed with his nephew's in 3 vols. of Ricercari. Andrea seems to have strongly felt the necessity of executing vocal music by instruments. He also composed the first 'real fugues,' a species of composition for which his nephew showed great facility. Proske's 'Musica divina' contains a missa brevis and no fewer than 10 motets of his, all for 4 voices.

2. Giovanni, born in Venice 1557, pupil of his uncle Andrea, by 1575 already well known as a composer, succeeded Claudio Merulo as first organist of St. Mark's, Jan. 1, 1585. He died probably in 1612, as Gianpaolo Savii succeeded him on August 12 of that year, but his monument in San Stefano gives Aug. 12, 1613, as the date of his death. Although he seems never to have left Venice he was well known throughout the civilised world. The works of his pupils, Heinrich Schütz, Alois Grani, and Michael Praetorius, testify to the deep respect they all entertained for him. His contrapuntal facility was extraordinary; his 'Sacrae symphoniae' (1597) contains a piece for 3 choirs, each of different composition. (This or a similar noble work is printed by Mr. Hullah in his 'Vocal scores.') The first part of the Symphoniae is dedicated to Count George Fugger, in acknowledgment of his having invited Gabrieli to his wedding. The necessity for the orchestra is still more marked in Giovanni than in his uncle Andrea; his modulations are often so bold and difficult that we can scarcely believe they were ever intended for voices. In this respect he may be called the father of the chromatic style. For particulars of his times and contemporaries see Winterfeld's 'Johann Gabrieli und seine Zeit,' 2 vols. of text and 1 vol. of examples, containing 23 pieces for voices (from 4 to 16), one for organ, and one for quartet. Others will be found in Bodenschatz; Rochlitz; in Musica sacra (Schlesinger 1834), etc. Rochlitz's Collection (Schott) contains an In excelsis of his for Soprano and Tenor solo, and chorus (à 4), with violins, 3 horns, and 2 trombones; also a Benedictus for 3 choirs.

3. Domenico, dramatic composer and violon-cellist, known as 'il Menghino del violoncello,' born at Bologna 1640; first in the band of San Petronio, then in the service of Cardinal Pamfili. In 1676 he became a member, and in 1683 President, of the Società Filarmonica in Bologna. He appears to have died before 1691. Of his operas, produced in Bologna, Padua, and Venice, 'Cleobulo' was the most successful. His instrumental compositions 'Balletti, gighe, correnti, sarabande, a due violini e violoncello con basso continuo,' op. 1 (Bologna 1703), are interesting.

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