Along with his uncle, Andrea Gabrieli, Giovanni Gabrieli is noted for his monumental polychoral works, for being a paragon of the Venetian School during the late Renaissance, and for being part of a long line of outstanding composers adorning St. Mark's Basilica, Venice. Not much is known about Gabrieli's early life, but it is reasonable to assume that Giovanni studied music with his uncle. Also, like his uncle, as a youth Giovanni was employed in Munich at the court of Duke Albrecht V, whose Kapellmeister was Orlandus Lassus. In 1579, upon Duke Albrecht's death, Gabrieli possibly left, along with many other court musicians, but there is no documentation of his whereabouts until 1584, when he became temporary organist at St. Mark's, where eventually he would spend many years. In 1585, Gabrieli's position became permanent. In addition to being organist at San Marco, Gabrieli was also engaged for a part-time post as organist to a religious confraternity, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.
Upon his uncle's death in 1586, Giovanni published two volumes of his uncle Andrea's music, titled Concerti (1587). From then on Giovanni would be the main composer at San Marco of ceremonial music, an important part of Venetian life. A collection of Giovanni's own large-scale works appeared in print in 1597, in the first volume of Sacrae symphoniae. This was the publication that spawned a number of imitations, especially in German-speaking lands, for example, *Heinrich Schütz's Symphoniae sacrae (1629), published in Venice. A number of the northerners, most notably Schütz, were sent by their employers to study with Gabrieli. All in all, Gabrieli provided such magnificence through his music and through hiring the best singers and instrumentalists, both for San Marco and for the Scuola di San Rocco, that *Thomas Coryat remarked of his experience at the feast of Saint Roche (San Rocco) that: “I heard the best music that ever I did in all my life…so good that I would willingly go a hundred miles on foot at any time to hear the like…sogood, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so superexcellent, that it did even ravish and stupefy all those strangers that never heard the like…. For mine own part I can say this, that I was
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Publication information: Book title: Absolutism and the Scientific Revolution, 1600-1720: A Biographical Dictionary. Contributors: Christopher Baker - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 125.
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