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Salomone Rossi

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The first published work attributed to Salamone Rossi was the "Canzonette" written in 1589. Rossi himself, however, also attributes "Il primo libro de madrigali a 5 voci" as his first publication.
It is more than likely that Rossi had contacts with the Mantuan court as a number of his early works were dedicated to Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga. It is thought that Rossi was favored by the court because it was not mandatory for him to wear the yellow badge identifying members of the Jewish community. Musically Rossi wrote the aforementioned madrigals but also contributed a legacy of instrumental pieces. This interest apparently comes from his having played the viol though S. Rossi was not on the official register of viol players. Other entries in other registers show that an S. Rossi was paid for playing the viol. He may not have been on the official registries because he was probably more closely associated with the professional Jewish troups than the court. Rossi contributed "intermedi" to Guarini's "L'idropica," wrote five books of five part madrigals with light, beautiful melodies. The second book of these works contains a basso continuo which is one of the first published examples of continuo. One of the other books shows a tendency towards strong but dated conventionality through the use of four part harmonies. "Hashirim asher lish'lomo" (The Songs of Solomon), the title of which was a play on the composer's name, is concerted music showing the influence of Mantuan contemporaries: Monteverdi's influence, in the three part pieces the influence of Gastaldi, and, in the larger works a strong influence from the Venetian school. Rossi's instrumental music is deemed most innovative because of the two high voices written over a tenor or baritone part. He then helped to bring about the transformation of the instrumental canzona into the trio sonata by giving equal treatment to the upper parts and the supporting bass line. In dances Rossi developed a complete separation between the upper voices while using popular patterns in the bass. His instrumental sinfonias are clearly related to the Canzonette of 1589 and his Madrigaletti of 1628 are excellent examples of short duets with instrumental ritornellos. ~ Keith Johnson, Rovi

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