Sunday, January 1, 2012

Composers Datebook for January 1, 2012


Produced in association with the American Composers Forum

Sunday, January 1

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Gabrieli gets the gig

On today's date in 1585, Giovanni Gabrieli got the job.

He had been acting as the temporary organist at St. Mark's in Venice, but his appointment was made permanent when he proved successful in a competition against the other candidates for the post. It was a unanimous vote, in fact.

Gabrieli would hold the post until his death in 1612, and would supply for the Doges of Venice a body of ceremonial music still admired for its exceptional power and beauty.

Even before Gabrieli's tenure, musicians at St. Mark's had made use of the church's multiple choir lofts for special effects involving antiphonal groups of performers. Gabrieli wrote music involving two, three, and even four groups of musicians, a kind of early surround-sound experience when one musical theme was answered, or echoed, by another in space and time.

Gabrieli's intricate music required a high degree of co-ordination among the performers scattered around the big church, and occasionally things didn't come off as planned, which could prove embarrassing. In a resolution drawn up by the governing body of St. Mark's in April of 1607, some five years before Gabrieli's death, the church officials, anxious to avoid embarrasing musical train wrecks, passed a resolution stressing the necessity of placing one of the best musicians in each loft to "beat the time as it is regulated by maestro Gabrieli."

Music Played on Today's Program:

Giovanni Gabrieli|
(c. 1556 - 1612):
Deus, in nomine tuo
Gregg Smith Singers;
Texas Boys Choir;
Vittorio Negri, cond.
CBS 62426
Canzona No. 27
Hesperion XX
EMI 63141

Additional Information:

On Gabrieli
On the "Venetian School"

About the Program
Composers Datebook is a daily program about composers of the past and present, hosted by John Zech.

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