Andrea Gabrieli (c. 1510 - 1586) studied in Munich with Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594) and worked there at the court of Duke Albrecht V. In 1566 he was appointed organist at St. Mark’s where he quickly became recognised as a significant composer, particularly of ceremonial music. St. Mark’s had a tradition of formal music making dating back to the 13th century. The appointment, as maestro di capella, of the Flemish musician Adrien Willaert (c.1490-1562) significantly raised the profile of the musical establishment. Andrea Gabrieli died at the then extremely ripe age of 76.
Giovanni Gabrieli (c.1553/1556 - 1612) almost certainly had lessons with his uncle Andrea. He also worked in Munich at the Court of Duke Albrecht and like his uncle, studied with Orlando di Lasso. Giovanni probably left Munich in 1579 on the death of Duke Albrecht. He deputised as organise at St. Mark’s in 1584 and in 1584 was appointed second organist and composer following the resignation of the previous incumbent, Claudio Merulo (1533 – 1604). In the same year he became organist at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, a part-time appointment,. retaining both positions until his death in 1612. Giovanni Gabrieli’s time spent as a colleague of his uncle was short as his uncle died a year after his appointment. The need for a successor to continue the grand style of composition must have led the authorities to offer Giovanni the position. He immediately began to edit and publish his uncle’s Concerti, often written for divided choirs (cori spezzati) of voices and instruments, which greatly influenced his compositional style. But Giovanni’s genius was to fully realise the potential of this spatial technique and to carry it even further than his uncle. He was granted permission to hire free-lance singers and players in order to enlarge the virtuoso ensemble which had already been permanently established in 1567. Giovanni Gabrieli developed his multi-choral technique to its limits. He was followed at St. Mark’s by Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643) who ushered in a new era of music making. It is likely that the works of both Gabrielis remained unperformed until their rediscovery in the 20th century. We are concluding tonight’s programme with a performance of In Ecclesiis, Giovanni Gabrieli’s grand 14 part motet for Double Choir, 6-part instrumental ensemble and organ continuo.
Heinrich Schütz (1585 - 1672) was sponsored by Landgrave Moritz of Hessen so in 1609 he was able to make a 3 year visit to Venice at the Landgrave’s expense. Whilst in Venice Schütz became a pupil of Giovanni Gabrieli. On returning to Germany he became organist in Kassel and then went on, in 1617, to become the director of the Electoral chapel in Dresden. He continued to work for the Elector of Saxony in Dresden until his death. In 1628 Schütz undertook a second journey to Venice, where Claudio Monteverdi was now the leading figure. Schütz remained there for about a year, to escape the 30 year’s war and to keep abreast of new musical developments. Whilst in Venice Schütz published the first of his three sets of Symphoniae Sacrae, a set settings of Latin texts which was a tribute to his former teacher Giovanni Gabrieli.
Lodovico Grossi da Viadana (1560 - 1627) was a more marginal figure. Born in Viadana, near Parma he entered the order of Minor Observants in about 1588. He became Maestro di Capella at Mantua in 1593, but 1608 he was Maestro di Capella at the Cathedral of Concordia near Venice. A prolific composer, it was in Venice that his Sinfonie Musicali a 8 Voci, Opus 18 were published, each one named after a different Italian City. Tonight we are performing La Padovana, (named for Padua) and La Bergamasca (named for Bergamo)
The Barbarian at the Gate The programme will also include the world premiere of a new work by Robert Hugill, The Barbarian at the Gate for choir and three trumpets, setting three of Helen Waddell’s haunting translations from medieval Latin, evoking the distant worlds of mythical Troy captured by the Greeks, Roman Aquilea destroyed by Attila the Hun and Saxon Lindisfarne invaded by marauding Vikings.
In the first movement (Lament for Troy, translated from the Latin of Hugh Primas of Orleans (c1094-1160)) the poet describes the ruinous state of contemporary Troy, gradually the ghosts of the vanished Trojans appear, he pictures Troy at its zenith only for the vision to fade. The second movement (Lament for Aquilea, destroyed and never to be built again, translated from the Latin of Paulinus of Aquilea (762 – 802)) the poet describes the devastation as Attila’s Huns march on Aquileia, destroying its glories for ever. In the final movement (On the Destruction of Lindisfarne, translated from the Latin of Alcuin (c.735 – 804)), the news of the raids on Lindisfarne cause the poet to meditate on the terrible state of the world and the changeableness of human existence.
The concert will open with a short Fanfare, The Barbarians are coming by Robert Hugill, which is based on themes from The Barbarian at the Gate.
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