Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 3:00 PM
Profeti della Quinta
Coral Gables Woman (click here for map)
1001 E Ponce De Leon Blvd
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Salamone Rossi was something of a solitary figure in Mantua. He was certainly a member of the significant Jewish community of the city, which contributed many scholars, writers and doctors to the late Italian Renaissance, even sending a delegation to the Council of Trent, cradle of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, where it obtained permission to publish Hebrew books. It had suffered good and bad times in Mantua, often depending on the characters of the Dukes, for several centuries members of the Gonzaga family. In his published works Rossi was referred to as “Salamone Rossi Ebreo.”
By the time he was grown, Vincenzo Gonzaga, who lavishly supported the arts, was the Duke, and Rossi was well-known as a musician and virtuoso violinist. He was close to the court and performed there often, close enough that he was excused from wearing the Jewish badge, then required in the city. It appears, however, that he was rarely actually employed by the court and did not travel with the Duke, both things that were true of Claudio Monteverdi in the same period. He was more closely associated with a Jewish theater company maintained by the court and composed for them.
As a composer he was, along with a number of other eminent musicians, deeply involved in the intellectual life of Italy at the moment between the late Renaissance and the Baroque. His early books of madrigals on texts by poets such as Battista Guarini and Gabriello Chiabrera, who also provided texts for Monteverdi, appear very similar to that composer’s early madrigals. They breathe the same air of pastoral innocence and simple four part vocal writing.
Indeed, the comparison is a useful tool for placing him in context. Later compositions have more amatory lamentation in the mannerist style but also begin to
use a musical style based on a single melody with accompaniment – essentially the seconda prattica of Monteverdi. In instrumental music this tendency led to early forms of the trio-sonata, essentially two solo voices with a bass accompaniment.
Salamone was one of the first to publish music for the Jewish liturgy in Hebrew, but, in contrast again with Monteverdi, used much the same musical vocabulary and techniques as in the secular tradition. Composers for
the Catholic liturgy had a stylistic tradition which had developed slowly from chant to the Venetian choral magnificence of Gabrieli, for example. The music of the Jewish liturgy had always eschewed magnificence, even
celebration, and was deeply rooted in the oriental, modal chant of long before. It had changed very little over time. In this sense, Rossi’s Ha-shirim asher li-Shelomoh, containing over thirty settings, mostly of psalms and composed in a very contemporary style, represented a major event. The combining of the rhythms of the language with those of the music presented serious technical problems which Salvatore Rossi was well fitted to solve. For one thing, the language traditionally begins on the right, classical music on the left. It suggests that, more than just a violinist, he was an adventurous and forward thinking intellect.
In 1630 Austrian troops stormed and captured Mantua. The Jewish ghetto was destroyed and its inhabitants dispersed. The Renaissance was over for the community.
It is probable that Salamone Rossi died that same year.
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