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Hans Leo Hassler

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Hans Leo Hassler, born in Nuremberg and baptized October 26, 1564, was the son of an organist, and received his first instruction in music from his father. In 1584, Hassler became the first of many German composers of the time who went to Italy to continue their studies; he arrived in Venice during the peak of activity of the Venetian school, the composers who wrote in the resplendent polychoral style, which was soon to become popular outside of its native city. Hassler was already familiar with some of this music, as numerous prints had circulated in Germany due to the interest of Leonhard Lechner, who was associated with Orlandus Lassus in Munich.

While in Venice, Hassler became friends with Giovanni Gabrieli, with whom he composed a wedding motet for Georg Gruber, a Nuremberg merchant living in Venice, in 1600. Together they studied with Andrea Gabrieli, Giovanni’s uncle. Under Andrea, Hassler received instruction in composition and organ playing.

Following Andrea Gabrieli’s death, Hassler returned to Germany in the latter part of 1585, moving to Augsburg where he served as an organist to Octavian II Fugger, a nobleman there. The Augsburg years were extremely creative for him; in addition he became well-known as a composer and organist at this time, though his influence was limited because he was a Protestant in an area which was still heavily Catholic.

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