Rossi was born in Genova, where he studied with his uncle, Lelio Rossi (1601-1638), at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo. Around the year 1624 he moved to Rome to enter the services of Cardinal Maurizio of Savoy. It was there that he met the madrigal composer Sigismondo d’India as well as the keyboard composer Girolamo Frescobaldi, with whom he may have studied. All but one of his madrigals may date from this period, and they are similar to those of d’India. The circumstances of Rossi’s dismissal from the Cardinal’s service are unclear.
Rossi’s first known opera dates from his second period of Roman service, while in the retinue of the rich Taddeo Barberini. His opera Erminia sul Giordano was premiered during the Carnivale of 1633 at the theatre of the Palazzo Barberini (Rossi himself apparently sang on stage as the sun-god Apollo), and appeared in print four years later. A second opera, Andromeda (1638, partly lost) was first performed in Ferrara in 1638. By 1649, Rossi had returned to Rome and was residing in the palace of Camilo Pamphili (a relative of the Pope), perhaps in semi-retirement. He died in July of 1656 died in Rome and may have been buried in the church of Saint Andrea delle Fratte in Minimi.
Although Rossi was famed as an outstanding violinist in his lifetime, today his reputation rests chiefly on his keyboard music. In particular his 10 Toccatas are highly regarded (amongst these, Toccata VII with its wildly chromatic ending is best known). They are stylistically close to the music of Girolamo Frescobaldi, Carlo Gesualdo and Johann Jakob Froberger, while being individual, and they enjoy a reputation as a significant milestone in the keyboard literature.
Edited by [deleted user] on 23 Mar 2009, 23:27
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