Furore Veneziano

Featuring: Soprano, Tenor, violino, cornetto, sackbut, dulcian/recorder, violone, theorbo, organ

Venice was among the most important musical capitals of the seventeenth century. Masters such as the Gabrielis, Grandi, Picchi, Croce, Rovetta and others were employed in the Scuole Grandi, powerful venetian institutions devoted to glorify the Divine through spectacular feasts, celebrations and processions,  where music played a fundamental role.  San Marco was not the only musical center in Venice: the “Scuola Grande di San Rocco” founded in 1480 by the confraternity of San Rocco, was one of the richest and most powerful Institutions in Venice. Rovetta, Monteverdi, Grandi, Gabrieli and other composers were working there before heading to San Marco or parallel to their duties at the Basilica. San Rocco was known for it’s majestic ceremonies, combined with a glorious and avantgarde musical accompaniement by brilliant “sonadori” and “cantadori”. The stability of monthly salaries and the pay rises were very appreciated aspects of this Scuola Grande, extremely appealing for musical professionals. Giovanni Picchi, born in Venice in 1572, organist, lutist and composer, probably a pupil of Giovani Croce and organist in San Tomà first, then at the Cappella dei Frari, was among the competitors for the organist position at San Rocco when Giovanni Gabrieli died. He did not win the position and he contested the result. The protest of Picchi was strong, in fact the Scuola Grande had to reorganize a new competiton, to which Picchi refused to participate. In spite of the mutual indispositions, Picchi obtained and finally accepted the assignment in S. Rocco in 1623. He even competed for the position of second organist in San Marco, without success. Picchi had more peaceful links with the nobles venetian families who helped him to spread his work. His Canzoni da Sonar, dedicated to a head of the military force of the Serenissima, are surprising: in Picchi we find both the great and more rigorous heritage of the Gabrielis, and the fantasy of the Stil Moderno, between polychorality and  composition for smaller ensembles, in which he is totally mastering the use of instrumental timbres.                                                                                                  

We owe to the Venetian School surely more than one important musical innovation. The cori spezzati, the concertato style and the evolution of the basso continuo are fascinating aspects of this repertoire, which can be found in the work by Gabrieli, Grandi, Rovetta and Croce.  The instruments were no longer subordinate to the singing voices. They could replace the voices and even had a repertoire of their own. The style of instrumental music in the Seicento is peculiar. There is at this point a true revolution of the instrument’s role: instruments stop just doubling or supporting the singing voices, and start instead to have a function of their own, a defined identity well shown in this program in the Canzonas of Picchi and Gabrieli. Another aspect of the Venetian school was the ability to influence the musical taste outside the Italian borders. Heinrich Schütz, German composer that worked in Dresden at the court of George I of Saxony, traveled several times to Venice and was a pupil of Giovanni Gabrieli and most likely also of Claudio Monteverdi. Like him, many other foreign composers spread the Venetian style in northern countries after having studied there for a while. Interesting to notice is also how the music of this program was not only written by Venetians or by Venice-inspired composers, but it was also edited in Venice. Since the famous printer Ottaviano Petrucci installed his workshop there already in 1500, Venice developed a wide music-printing and editing tradition which undoubtely also contributed into profiling this city as a true Capital of Music .

Giovanni Picchi (1572-1643) Canzon Duodecima

Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) Domine Labia Mea Aperies

Giovanni Picchi, Canzon seconda

Giovanni Rovetta(1596-1669) , Cantate Domino

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), O quam pulchra

Giovanni Picchi, Canzon XI

Alessandro Grandi (c.a 1572), Bone Jesu

Tarquinio Merula (c.a 1572), Magnificate Dominum

Alessandro Grandi, Vulnerasti cor meum

Giovanni Picchi, Canzon Quarta

Alessandro Grandi, Ave Regina

J. H. Kapsberger (1580-1651) Toccata per Chitarrone

Johann Rosenmüller (1614-1584) In te domine speravi


Photo @Susanna Drescher