Girolamo Frescobaldi, classical music composer

Girolamo Frescobaldi image

Girolamo Frescobaldi

Biography

Girolamo Frescobaldi was a major figure in the transition between the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods and immensely influential as a composer of keyboard music. Among the many composers influenced by Frescobaldi's music is none other than Henry Purcell, G.F. Handel and J.S. Bach. Furthermore, his most important pupil, Johann Jakob Froberger, became one of the most influential composers of the Baroque period, whose works both survived and were still studied during the time of Mozart and Beethoven. Though his sacred music is considered less important than his keyboard music, his sole collection of church music, Fiori musicali, nevertheless served as a model of strict counterpoint well into the 18th and 19th centuries.

Frescobaldi was born in Ferrara in September, 1583. His father, a landowner, and possibly an organist himself, may have been his first music teacher. Frescobaldi exhibited an early inclination for the organ and garnered the reputation of a child prodigy. Indeed, his skill was enough to draw the attention of Luzzasco Luzzaschi, a court organist, who took him on as a pupil. Besides being an organist, Luzzaschi was a respected composer and it is likely from him that the young Frescobaldi learned his remarkable skills in counterpoint and harmony.

With a desire to further his career, Frescobaldi eventually left his hometown and travelled to Rome as early as 1604 and certainly by 1607. For the first half of that year, he was employed as an organist at Santa Maria in Trastevere. However, the patronage of Guido Bentivoglio, Archbishop of Rhodes, took Frescobaldi to Flanders where he served as a musician in Bentivoglio's entourage. Frescobaldi's time here was also short-lived. In July of the following year, while he was still in Brussels, Frescobaldi was elected to succeed Ercole Pasquini as the organist at St. Peter's in Rome. He accepted the position but did not assume his duties until October 31. The position was not a financially lucrative one, but it brought Frescobaldi into the employment of Enzo Bentivoglio, ambassador to Rome from Ferrara. After becoming estranged from Bentivoglio, Frescobaldi entered the employment of the wealthy Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini in 1612. The position brought him financial security and his growing fame as a composer placed him at the forefront of Italian musicians.

Beginning in 1615, the next thirteen years were Frescobaldi's most productive period with several collections of keyboard and instrumental pieces appearing in print. In 1628, he was granted a leave from Rome and on November 22 he departed for Florence. There he entered into the service of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, a member of the powerful Medici family. In 1634, the composer returned to Rome, taking up once again his duties at St. Peter's. Frescobaldi died on March 1, 1643.


Composer Title Date Action
Girolamo Frescobaldi Canzon 02/18/2009 Play Add to playlist
Girolamo Frescobaldi Corrente III (arr. Kurtág) 06/16/2009 Play Add to playlist
Girolamo Frescobaldi Toccata for Cello and Piano 11/14/2013 Play Add to playlist