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Frescobaldi, Girolamo
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Frescobaldi, Girolamo

(Born; Ferrara, mid-Sept 1583; Died; Rome, 1 March 1643). Italian composer and organist. He studied with Luzzaschi at Ferrara, where he also came under Gesualdo's influence. Soon after 1600 he went to Rome where in 1607 he became organist of S Maria in Trastevere. The same year he travelled with his patron, Guido Bentivoglio, to Brussels, but his experience of this centre of keyboard music left little imprint on him, except perhaps in the fantasias of 1608. In July 1608 Frescobaldi was elected organist of St Peter's, Rome; during the following years he was employed also by Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini and other patrons.In 1615 Frescobaldi secured a position with Duke Ferdinando Gonzaga at Mantua, but after three months he returned to Rome, remaining there until 1628 when he became organist at the Medici court in Florence. By the time he returned once more to Rome, in 1634, his fame was international and he was moving in the highest circles of patronage. In 1637 Froberger came from Vienna to study with him. Little is known of his other pupils, but his influence on keyboard playing and composition remained important for a century or more.Frescobaldi is remembered chiefly for his keyboard music, much of which was published in 12 volumes (1608-14) with toccatas, canzonas, ricercares, dances and variations. The most famous is Fiori musicali (1635), with pieces for use in the Mass: the Kyrie-Christe unit from the Ordinary, toccatas to be played during the Elevation and other pieces corresponding to items of the Proper (introit, gradual, offertory, communion). Bach owned a copy and learnt from it.Frescobaldi's vocal music is of relatively small importance. His sacred works, including Circa; 40 motets, mostly for one to three voices and continuo, show none of the complexity and expressive intensity of the keyboard works. Perhaps his most characteristic vocal music is in an early volume of madrigals (1608), but two volumes of Arie musicali published during Frescobaldi's years in Florence (1630) are also of interest.

Instrumental music over 130 keyboard works incl. toccatas, capriccios, fantasias, ricercares, variations, dances, some (incl. 3 organ masses) in Fiori musicali (1635); over 50 ensemble canzonas

Vocal music 2 masses; over 30 sacred pieces; 65 secular pieces (madrigals, songs)

(c)Groves Dictionaries, MacMillan Publishers Limited, UK

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