Gabrieli, Andrea

Andrea Gabrieli (c.1533-1585) is one of the best known Italian composers of the late Renaissance, and a reknowned member of the Venetian School of composers. Little is known about his youth. Probably he was a choirboy in some parish choir in or around Venice, like all of the composers in his time. All of them became organists in their parish church and choir masters ("maestri di cappella").

The Venetian style with its polychoral music was hugely popular in the second half of the 16th century. This Venetian style was founded by Andrian Willaert about 1525, and this Franco-Flemish composer must have influenced Andrea Gabrieli greatly. In his turn Gabrieli was the teacher of some famous later composers like his nephew Giovanni, Lodovico Zacconi and Hans Leo Hassler.

After visiting Orlando di Lasso in Munich in the 1560’s Gabrieli returned to Venice with new ideas, but the cooperation appeared to have been fruitful for both composers. However unlike di Lasso Gabrieli composed instrumental music as well. Other composers known for this polychoral style - so suitable for the spacious and vaulted St. Mark’s in Venice - were Giovanni Croce, Cipriano de Rore, Claudio Merulo, and later Giovanni Gabrieli, Andrea’s nephew. Although Andrea Gabrieli is known for his sacred music (penitential psalms, celebrational hymns, motets and masses) he also wrote many madrigals.

Not before 1980 Gabrieli’s date of death were exactly known. But when the register containing his death date was found (1585), it contained the remark of his age: about 52 years. Hence the assumed year of birth c. 1533. Many of his compositions were published after his death, in 1587.