Girolamo Cavazzoni

  • Born
    c. 1525
  • Died
    c. 1577
  • Birthplace
    Someplace in what is now Italy
Girolamo (Hieronimo) Cavazzoni was an Italian organist and composer, son of Marco Antonio Cavazzoni. Little is known about his life except that he worked at Venice and Mantua, and published two collections of organ music. These collections only contain music written before about 1549, but are of high quality, and established the traditional form of imitative ricercars and canzonas. Cavazzoni's surviving oeuvre comprises two collections published during his lifetime, and two ensemble ricercares. All of this music dates from before 1552, thus Cavazzoni's late work is completely unknown. Cavazzoni's published collections mostly contain liturgical music: hymns, alternatim masses, and alternatim Magnificat settings. Cavazzoni's writing in these works is distinguished by the freedom with which he treats chant melodies: unlike most of his predecessors and contemporaries, who sought to present the chant clearly and without serious changes, Cavazzoni derives multiple themes from a single chant by stretching or omitting notes, changing the rhythmic design, etc. Cavazzoni would also employ innovative structures in his works. For example, in Magnificat settings he treats portions of the chant imitatively, and since each verse is different and presenting a decorated form of the melody, Cavazzoni's settings are effectively miniature variation sets. In hymn settings, Cavazzoni sometimes employs fore-imitation: anticipatory imitative sections before the actual chant is set, and/or between verses.

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