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Giovanni Gabrieli

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Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1554/1557–1612) was an Italian composer and organist. He was one of the most influential musicians of his time, and represents the culmination of the style of the Venetian School, at the time of the shift from Renaissance to Baroque idioms.

He was probably born in Venice and probably studied with his uncle, the composer Andrea Gabrieli. He became the principal organist and composer at the church of San Marco in Venice, where his work made him one of the most noted composers in Europe. He used the church’s unusual layout to create striking spatial effects. The vogue which began with his influential volume Sacrae symphoniae (1597) was such that composers from all over Europe, especially from Germany, went to Venice to study.

All of Gabrieli’s secular vocal music was composed relatively early; later in his career he concentrated on sacred vocal and instrumental music, which exploited sonority for maximum effect. His best-known piece is arguably In Ecclesiis, which makes use of four separate groups of instrumental and singing performers, underpinned by the omnipresent organ and continuo.

Gabrieli was increasingly ill after about 1606, at which time church authorities began to appoint deputies to take over duties he could no longer perform. He died in 1612, of complications from a kidney stone.

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