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Giovanni Picchi

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Biography

Giovanni Picchi (1571 or 1572 – 17 May 1643) was an Italian composer, organist, lutenist, and harpsichordist of the early Baroque era. He was a late follower of the Venetian School, and was influential in the development and differentiation of instrumental forms which were just beginning to appear, such as the sonata and the ensemble canzona; in addition he was the only Venetian of his time to write dance music for harpsichord.

Life

Little is known about Picchi’s early life, but his birthdate (1571 or 1572) can be inferred from his death record which states that he was 71 when he died on May 17, 1643. The earliest documentary evidence pertaining to him, unusually enough, is a picture: he appears as a lutenist on the title page of a 1600 dance manual by Fabritio Caroso (Nobilità di dame). Sometime before February 1607 he was hired as organist at the Venetian church of the Frari, and from 1623 to his death he was also organist at the confraternity Scuola di San Rocco, the most prestigious and wealthy of all the Venetian confraternities. In 1624 he applied for the position of second organist at St. Mark’s, but Giovanni Pietro Berti was chosen instead.

He was a close contemporary of Monteverdi, being born four years later and dying six months earlier than the more renowned composer.

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