Essay on Biography of Giovanni Gabrieli

Essay on Biography of Giovanni Gabrieli

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Born in 1556, Giovanni Gabrieli was an Italian composer who worked for the St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. During his time there, he composed works for separate choirs for both vocal and instrumental performers. One of his most famous pieces comes from his Sacrae Symphoniae completed in 1597; the Sonata Pian e Forte. Gabrieli was both a composer and organist in Renaissance and Baroque transitional period which caused elements of both periods to be demonstrated within his compositions. With instrumental music becoming more popular, it was becoming quite common during this time to have a composer who also played an instrument, especially the piano or organ. Sonata Pian e Forte gained fame from being a work that demonstrated a few characteristics and ideas about sound that had yet to be seen or often used.
‘Sonata’ at this time referred to instrumental music while ‘pian’ means soft and ‘forte’ means loud. The title of the work indicates that it is an instrumental work that has soft and loud sections. Gabrieli's composition is special because it is the first to show dynamic markings in an ensemble setting. Some sources will say that it is the first piece to portray dynamics in general, but other sources provide evidence that dynamic markings appear in solo literature composed decades beforehand. “Deeper acquaintance with the music shows that they [the dynamics] also have an emotional function, for they occur so irregularly that the listener is never certain if he will be overwhelmed with sound, or when he must strain his ears for some more subdued phrase.” Gabrieli felt that dynamics can help portray or alter the audience’s perception of a pattern of music towards a particular mood.
In Sonata Pian e Forte, there are two se...

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...excel. “G. Gabrieli Sonata Pian' e Forte.” June 6, 2012. Accessed April 24, 2014.

Gabrieli, Giovanni. Sacrae Symphoniae: Sonata Pian e Forte. London: Brass Wind Publications, 1996. M886.G119 S13

Gabrieli, Giovanni. Sacrae Symphoniae: Sonata Pian e Forte. John Wallace, Simon Wright, and the Wallace Collection. Simon Wright. Nimbus Records NI5236, 2012. Streaming audio.

Harman, Alec, and Anthony Milner. Late Renaissance and Baroque Music. London: Barrie Books LTD., 1959. ML193.H37

Schulenberg, David. Music of the Baroque. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. ML193.S38 2001 c.2

Britannica Footnote:
Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, s.v. “Giovanni Gabrieli,” accessed May 4, 2014,

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