Rossi, Salamone [Salomone, Salamon de', Shlomo]

(b ?Mantua, probably 19 Aug 1570; d ?Mantua, c1630). Italian composer and instrumentalist. He is specially important for his contribution to the development of the trio sonata and chamber duet.

1. Life.

2. Works.

WORKS

BIBLIOGRAPHY

IAIN FENLON

Rossi, Salamone

1. Life.

Since his first published work, the Canzonette of 1589, contains 19 pieces, was dedicated on 19 August 1589 and includes a table of contents whose initial letters include the acrostic VIVAT S R, it is probable that Rossi was born on 19 August 1570. Zunz and Werner claimed that he was the son of the distinguished historian Azariah de’ Rossi, but the latter himself noted in his Meor enayim (Mantua, 1573) that he had no surviving son. The theory, advanced by Einstein (1950–51), that there were two composers of this name is now generally discredited (it was based mainly on the fact that in their dedications Rossi described both the Canzonette and Il primo libro de madrigali a 5 voci as his first works). It seems likely that Rossi was born in Mantua. He spent his entire professional career there and had strong connections with the Gonzaga court. He was presumably too young to contribute to L’amorosa caccia (Venice, 1588), an anthology of pieces by Mantuan-born composers, but his first three publications suggest contact with the court. The book of canzonettas is dedicated to Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga and opens with a piece in honour of the duke and duchess; the first book of five-part madrigals is again dedicated to Vincenzo, with the acknowledgment that ‘under the happy shade of your service I have learnt everything’; and the second book is dedicated to the Marquis of Pallazuolo, a prominent member of the Mantuan court. Rossi was evidently well regarded by Vincenzo, since the compulsory wearing of the yellow badge, introduced as part of the restrictions imposed on the Jewish community in response to popular agitation during the early part of Vincenzo’s rule, was relaxed in his case by ducal decree in 1606; this privilege was renewed by the new duke, Francesco II, only six days after his accession in 1612. Later, however, Rossi’s relations with the court seem to have become less close, and that he dedicated none of his later works either to the Gonzagas or to members of the court is consistent with the general impression of a decline in the musical life of the court in the years following Vincenzo’s death.

Despite the implications of his above-quoted remark in the dedication of his first book of five-part madrigals – which is probably no more than a piece of extravagant lip-service – it should not be assumed that Rossi was a permanent or official member of the Gonzaga musical establishment, though he was salaried there for some isolated years. Leo da Modena’s comment in the preface to Hashirim asher lish’lomo that he ‘succeeded by his abilities in rising to the position of the singers in the Duke of Mantua’s choir’ can only refer to his comparative stature and talent since he is recorded in the Mantuan archives only as an occasional instrumentalist, does not appear in the salary rolls of the Palatine Basilica of S Barbara and in any case would presumably have been debarred from such a position because of his Jewish faith. So although he was not one of the seven court violists recorded in a Mantuan salary list of 1599, his name does appear in the Registrati de’ musici straordinarii (in I-MAc) between 1587 and 1600, and Bertolotti noted a further payment for viol playing in 1622. It seems likely for a variety of reasons that his principal professional connections were with one of the Jewish theatrical troupes that played such a significant role in Mantuan theatrical life, not only in the ghetto but also in the Christian community and at court. This assumption is reinforced by a memorandum from Carlo Rossi to the duke on 27 February 1608 reporting Salamone’s selection as the composer of the first of the five intermedi, to texts by Chiabrera, that were to accompany the performance of Guarini’s comedy L’idropica, planned for presentation at Mantua on 2 June 1608 as part of the festivities celebrating the marriage of Francesco Gonzaga to Marguerite of Savoy. He also contributed a balletto to the incidental music for G.B. Andreini’s La Maddalena, given in 1617. Moreover, in 1612 Alessandro Pico, Prince of Mirandola, to whom Rossi dedicated his third book of five-part madrigals, requested that he and ‘his group of musicians’ be sent to Mirandola to entertain the Duke of Modena and other guests.

With the exception of the virtuoso singer known as Madama Europa who was his sister, Rossi was probably not related to any of the other Mantuan musicians with the same surname. Both Carlo and Mattheo Rossi must have been Christians (or converts) since they appear in the salary rolls of S Barbara, and the same is true of Anselmo Rossi, who contributed one piece to a motet collection (RISM 16184). The dedication of Rossi’s last published work is dated 3 January 1628. He may well have perished during the destruction of the ghetto and the severe plague that followed the sack of Mantua at the hands of the imperial troops in July 1630.

Like Rossi, Madama Europa served the Mantuan court, though, in all probability, for a more limited period (her name occurs, along with Salamone's, on two payrolls: one from 1589–90, as ‘Europa di Rossi’, the other from 1592–3, as ‘Madama Europa sua sorella’). She deserves attention for being the only known Jewish female professional singer of her time (to be distinguished from various Jewish amateur singers, among them Rachel and Madonna Belinna). Europa appears to have been her given name, and not, as often claimed from Canal on, a sobriquet attached to her after having played the part of Europa in an intermedio by Chiabrera (The Rape of Europa, produced at the Mantuan court in 1608). If she did play the part, she seems to have been a sensitive musician and to have had a charming voice: the Mantuan court chronicler Federico Follino said the singer who played Europa that ‘in her capacity as a woman most understanding of music, she sang to the listeners’ great delight and their even greater wonder in a most delicate and sweet voice’ (Compendio delle sontuose feste … , Mantua 1608).

Rossi, Salamone

2. Works.

Rossi’s music has often been misrepresented as a result of the blanket application of preconceived concepts of periodization and the consequent highlighting of what are believed to be ‘proto-Baroque’ elements in it. Most of the pieces in the five books of five-part madrigals, however, are cast in a light, sonorous style that breathes the freshness and spirit of the pastoral Marenzio and the early Monteverdi. Much has been made of his inclusion of a basso continuo part in the second book (1602), following hard upon his experiment with an accompanying chitarrone tablature in the first (1600). These are indeed the first published examples of continuo madrigals, but they are rather tame. Moreover, current knowledge of the way in which vocal music was accompanied by instruments, supported by the evidence of sources as early and disparate as the explicit reference to a type of continuo part in Diego Ortiz’s Tratado de glosas (1553) and the surviving organ bass part to a 40-part motet Ecce beatam lucem (1568) by Alessandro Striggio (i), suggests that this may be no more than printed confirmation of a well-established performing practice. Significantly, the basso continuo part for the second book was not issued separately but was printed opposite the cantus part after the traditional arrangement of lute tablatures. Again, no figures appear in this book, and few occur in the third (1603); only the last two books (1610, 1622) are provided with genuine, figured continuo parts. The overwhelming conservatism of the music in all five books also characterizes the four-part volume, the very appearance of which as late as 1614 must be regarded as archaic: only a handful of books of four-part pieces were published after 1600, mostly by Neapolitan and Sicilian composers. Ten of the texts are by Guarini, and seven of these are from Il pastor fido. On grounds of poetic taste and musical style, Newman has suggested that the pieces in the book date from 1600–03, a hypothesis supported by the enthusiasm for the play at Mantua during this period and by the keen interest generally aroused by the publication of the Ciotti edition at Venice in 1602. Yet the impression of comfortable stylistic uniformity throughout the madrigal books may be misplaced, since of the fifth five-part book, which contains a number of pieces described as madrigali concertati, only the continuo part survives, and other exceptions are the six similarly labelled pieces in the first book, which can be performed either by five voices or as solo songs.

Traditional musical approaches certainly characterize Hashirim asher lish’lomo (‘The Songs of Solomon’), a collection of 33 polyphonic settings of Hebrew psalms, hymns and synagogal songs whose importance has perhaps been overemphasized by Jewish liturgists. Moreover, Adler’s studies strongly suggest that even within the traditions of synagogal music Rossi’s collection is not the isolated example of concerted music before the 19th century liturgical reforms that it was once thought to be. The existence of cori spezzati fragments written out around 1630–50 (see Fuchs) and thought to have emanated from Leo da Modena’s Jewish musical academy in Venice may suggest that The Songs of Solomon formed part of the repertory of some other such body. The title of the collection is probably a pun on Rossi’s name, since none of the texts, though largely taken from the Old Testament, actually comes from The Song of Solomon. The style of the music reflects not only the expected influences of Mantuan colleagues, particularly Monteverdi, and, in the three-part pieces, the ballettos and canzonettas of Gastoldi, but also, in the works for larger forces, the music of the Venetian school. L’mi ehpots, a setting of a text in the popular Jewish verse form of the wedding ode, is an echo dialogue whose ornamented final cadence borrows the gestures of secular monody. It has been suggested that, in addition to contemporary polyphonic styles, Rossi also drew on Italian Jewish chants for some of his material. The result, novel in its fusion of different cultural traditions rather than in the component stylistic elements themselves, also marks a new departure in the history of music printing. Hashirim asher lish’lomo is the first attempt to print music to Hebrew texts, a task which brought its own technical challenges, not all of which are overcome in Bragadino’s edition (see illustration).

It is in his lighter vocal pieces and in his instrumental music that Rossi appears at his most novel and prophetic. The book of three-part canzonettas comprises a variety of musical and poetic types, though most of them are genuine strophic canzonettas with internal repetition schemes set for two high voices and a tenor or baritone. The publisher Amadino produced the book in the small pocket-sized upright format favoured for this repertory. Among its contents,Voi che seguit’il ciec’ardor is unusual in its use of terza rima with sdrucciola rhythms, and Mirate che mi fa is almost a madrigal in three sections, with an extended last line. Rossi’s most important achievement is his contribution to the transformation of the instrumental canzona, with its homogeneous texture, into the trio sonata, with its prominent equal upper parts and supporting bass. This development, which was influenced by the characteristic textures exhibited by the virtuoso singers at the Ferrarese and Mantuan courts in the late 1580s and 1590s, occurs mostly in the sinfonias of his instrumental collections rather than in the dance movements. Some of the dances, which are characterized by a polarization of upper and lower parts, are named after members of the nobility or after other composers, such as ‘La Cecchina’ (Francesca Caccini), or are based on popular bass melodic patterns. Although the chitarrone part is unfigured, it functions as a true continuo part, and the presence of dynamic markings is a typical feature of the emergence of instrumental music as a separate genre. The sinfonias, which may have been meant as instrumental preludes or ritornellos in the manner of the lutenists’ ricercares or tastar da corde or the instrumental ritornellos which occur in some of Ludovico Agostini’s madrigals, are so clearly related in texture and structure to the Canzonette of 1589 that the influence of the one style upon the other seems indisputable. While the sinfonias are essentially textless canzonettas, the Madrigaletti of 1628, which include two strophic arias with short instrumental ritornellos between the strophes, are finely wrought early examples of the short duet so successfully cultivated by Monteverdi and later by Carissimi and Luigi Rossi. Yet despite the intriguing transitional features here and in the instrumental music, Rossi’s contemporaries, inasmuch as they admired his music at all, preferred the comparatively bland style of the concerted pieces from the first set of five-part madrigals, though Francis Tregian did copy madrigals from the third book into his manuscript score (in GB-Lbl). Weelkes was also evidently acquainted with Rossi’s music: his settings of I bei ligustri e rose and Donna, il vostro bel viso in the Ayeres or Phantasticke Spirites (1608), which are clearly related to his five-voice settings of English versions of the same texts in the Madrigals to 3, 4, 5 and 6 Voices (1597), are so close to Rossi’s settings of the same texts in his Canzonette a tre voci that it is difficult to believe that Weelkes had not actually seen Rossi’s versions.

Rossi, Salamone

WORKS

Editions:

S. Rossi: Cantiques, ed. S. Naumbourg and V. d’Indy (Paris, 1877) [N]

Sinfonie, Gagliarde, Canzone, i, ii, ed. J. Newman and F. Rikko (New York, 1965) [R]

Salamone Rossi opera omnia, ed. D. Harrán, CMM, c (1993–)

all published in Venice

secular vocal

Il primo libro delle canzonette, 3vv (1589); ed. H. Avenary (Tel-Aviv, 1976)

Il primo libro de madrigali … con alcuni di detti madrigali nel chittarrone, 5vv, chit (1600); 11 in N; 1 ed. in Monumenti musicali italiani, xvii (Milan, 1996)

Il secondo libro de madrigali, 5vv, bc … ed un dialogo, 8vv, nel fine (1602); ed. H. Avenary (Tel-Aviv, 1989)

Il terzo libro de madrigali, con una canzona de baci nel fine, 5vv, bc (1603)

Il quarto libro de madrigali, 5vv, bc (1610); 11 in N

Il primo libro de madrigali, 4vv, bc (1614)

Il quinto libro de madrigali, 5vv, bc (1622)

Madrigaletti per cantar a due soprani o tenori, 2vv, op.13 (1628); 6 ed. L. Landshoff, Alte Meister des Bel Canto, iv–v (Leipzig, 1927)

Balletto, 3vv, 16173

sacred vocal

Hashirim asher lish’lomo, 3–8vv, ed. Leo da Modena (1622–3); ed. F. Rikko (New York, 1967–73), 30 in N

instrumental

Il primo libro delle sinfonie e gagliarde … per sonar, 2 va/cornetts, chit/other inst (1607); 5 in R i, 6 in R ii, 1 in appx

Il secondo libro delle sinfonie e gagliarde, a 3, per sonar … con alcune delle dette a 4–5, ed alcune canzoni per sonar, a 4, nel fine, vas, chit (1608); 8 in R i, 6 in R ii

Il terzo libro de varie sonate, sinfonie, gagliarde, brandi e corrente, 2 va da braccio, chit/other inst, op.12 (1623)

Il quarto libro de varie sonate, sinfonie, gagliarde, brandi e corrente, 2 vn, chit (1622); 1 in R, appx

WORKS

Editions:

S. Rossi: Cantiques, ed. S. Naumbourg and V. d’Indy (Paris, 1877) [N]

Sinfonie, Gagliarde, Canzone, i, ii, ed. J. Newman and F. Rikko (New York, 1965) [R]

Salamone Rossi opera omnia, ed. D. Harrán, CMM, c (1993–)

all published in Venice

secular vocal

Il primo libro delle canzonette, 3vv (1589); ed. H. Avenary (Tel-Aviv, 1976)

Il primo libro de madrigali … con alcuni di detti madrigali nel chittarrone, 5vv, chit (1600); 11 in N; 1 ed. in Monumenti musicali italiani, xvii (Milan, 1996)

Il secondo libro de madrigali, 5vv, bc … ed un dialogo, 8vv, nel fine (1602); ed. H. Avenary (Tel-Aviv, 1989)

Il terzo libro de madrigali, con una canzona de baci nel fine, 5vv, bc (1603)

Il quarto libro de madrigali, 5vv, bc (1610); 11 in N

Il primo libro de madrigali, 4vv, bc (1614)

Il quinto libro de madrigali, 5vv, bc (1622)

Madrigaletti per cantar a due soprani o tenori, 2vv, op.13 (1628); 6 ed. L. Landshoff, Alte Meister des Bel Canto, iv–v (Leipzig, 1927)

Balletto, 3vv, 16173

sacred vocal

Hashirim asher lish’lomo, 3–8vv, ed. Leo da Modena (1622–3); ed. F. Rikko (New York, 1967–73), 30 in N

instrumental

Il primo libro delle sinfonie e gagliarde … per sonar, 2 va/cornetts, chit/other inst (1607); 5 in R i, 6 in R ii, 1 in appx

Il secondo libro delle sinfonie e gagliarde, a 3, per sonar … con alcune delle dette a 4–5, ed alcune canzoni per sonar, a 4, nel fine, vas, chit (1608); 8 in R i, 6 in R ii

Il terzo libro de varie sonate, sinfonie, gagliarde, brandi e corrente, 2 va da braccio, chit/other inst, op.12 (1623)

Il quarto libro de varie sonate, sinfonie, gagliarde, brandi e corrente, 2 vn, chit (1622); 1 in R, appx

Rossi, Salamone

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BertolottiM

EinsteinIM

NewmanSBE

L. Zunz: Kerem chemed, v ( 1841), 132

S. Naumbourg: Essai sur la vie et les oeuvres de Salamon Rossi (Paris, 1877; It. trans., 1974)

A. d’Ancona: Origini del teatro italiano, ii (Turin, 2/ 1891), appx ii, chap.5: ‘Gli ebrei di Mantova e il teatro’ [appx not in 1st edn]

E. Birnbaum: Jüdische Musiker am Hofe zu Mantua von 1542–1628 (Vienna, 1893; Eng. trans., enlarged 1978)

A. Solerti: Gli albori del melodramma (Milan, 1904–5/R), i, 92

P. Nettl: ‘Musicisti ebrei del rinascimento italiano’, Rassegna mensile di Israel, ii (1926–7), 69ff

P. Nettl: ‘Some Early Jewish Musicians’, MQ, xvii (1931), 40–46

T. Fuchs: ‘The Edward Birnbaum Collection of Jewish Music’, Hebrew Union College Annual, xviii (1943–4), 397–428, esp. 407

P. Gradenwitz: ‘An Early Instance of Copyright, Venice 1622’, ML, xxvii (1946), 185–6

A. Einstein: ‘Salamone Rossi as Composer of Madrigals’, Hebrew Union College Annual, xxiii/2 (1950–51), 383–96

C. Roth: The Jews in the Renaissance (Philadelphia, 1959/R), 285ff

E. Werner: The Sacred Bridge: the Interdependence of Liturgy and Music in Synagogue and Church during the First Millennium (London and New York, 1959–84/ R), 404

J. Newman: The Madrigals of Salamon de’ Rossi (diss., Columbia U., 1962)

S. Simonsohn: Toldot ha-Yehudim be-dukasut Mantovah [History of the Jews in the duchy of Mantua] (Jerusalem, 1962–4; Eng. trans., 1977)

I. Adler: La pratique musicale savante dans quelques communautés juives en Europe aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Paris, 1966)

I. Adler: ‘The Rise of Art Music in the Italian Ghetto: the Influence of Segregation on Jewish Musical Praxis’, Jewish Medieval and Renaissance Studies, ed A. Altmann (Cambridge, MA, 1967), 321–64

P.M. Tagmann: ‘La cappella dei maestri cantori della basilica palatina di Santa Barbara a Mantova (1565–1630): nuovo materiale scoperto negli archivi mantovani’, Civiltà mantovana, iv (1970), 376–400

J. Newman and F. Rikko: A Thematic Index to the Works of Salamon Rossi (Hackensack, NJ, 1972)

F. Piperno: ‘I quattro libri di musica strumentale di Salamone Rossi’, NRMI, xiii (1979), 337–57

I. Fenlon: Music and Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Mantua (Cambridge, 1980)

J.R. Cohen: ‘Salamone Rossi's Madrigal Style: Observations and Conjectures’, Orbis musicae, ix (1986–7), 150–63

D. Harrán: ‘Salamone Rossi as a Composer of Theatre Music’, Studi musicali, xvi (1987), 95–141

J. Jacobson: ‘A Possible Influence of Traditional Chant on a Synagogue Chant of Salamone Rossi’, Musica judaica, x (1987–8), 52–8

D. Harrán: ‘Tradition and Innovation in Jewish Music of the late Renaissance’, JM, vii (1989), 107–30

D. Harrán: ‘Cultural Fusions in Jewish Musical Thought of the later Renaissance’, In cantu et in sermone: for Nino Pirrotta, ed. F. Della Seta and F. Piperno (Florence, 1989), 141–54

S. Parisi: ‘Musicians at the Court of Mantua during Monteverdi's Time: Evidence From the Payrolls’, Musicologia humana: Studies in Honor of Warren and Ursula Kirkendale, ed. S. Gmeinwieser, D. Riley and J. Riedlbauer (Florence, 1994), 183–208, esp. 188–91

D. Harrán: ‘Madama Europa, Jewish Singer in Late Renaissance Mantua’, Festa musicologica: Essays in Honor of George J. Buelow, ed. Th.J. Mathiesen and B.V. Rivera (Stuyvesant, NY, 1995), 197–231