Andrea Gabrieli, classical music composer

Andrea Gabrieli image

Andrea Gabrieli


These days Andrea Gabrieli is perhaps somewhat overshadowed by his more prestigious nephew, Giovanni Gabrieli. Nonetheless, his fame during his tenure as organist at St. Mark's in Venice and his influence over the next generation of Venetian composers and beyond was no less impressive. An extremely prolific and versatile composer, Gabrieli composed in a range of styles that included sacred and secular vocal music, instrumental music, and even dramatic music for one of the earliest revivals of an ancient Greek drama, Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. At the height of his career, the Venetian School of composition, begun by Adrian Willaert, began to blossom, and would ultimately come to complete fruition at the hands of his nephew and Claudio Monteverdi.

Like many of the Renaissance composers, little is known of the details of Gabrieli's early life. Inferring from his death certificate which lists his age as around fifty-two, Gabrieli was born in either 1532 or 1533, and was likely a native of Venice. It is possible he may have been a pupil of Willaert himself; however there is some evidence to suggest he was studying with Vincenzo Ruffo in Verona in the 1550s. He later returned to Venice, and competed unsuccessfully for the post of organist at St. Mark's, losing to Claudio Merulo.

The following years remain a mystery. However in 1562, Gabrieli was in Germany, visiting Frankfurt am Main and Munich, and studying with the renowned Orlando de Lassus. Lassus become a remarkable influence on the young composer, and Gabrieli returned to Venice with many new ideas. In 1564, he took on some duties at St. Marks, and then two years later, finally obtained the coveted post of organist.

At St. Mark's, Gabrieli composed music for some of Venice's greatest ceremonial occasions, and his music was often dedicated to illustrious personages. He also became well-known as a teacher. Among his most notable students were his nephew, the music theorist Lodovico Zacconi, and Hans Leo Hassler, who helped carry the Venetian style northward to Germany.

Gabrieli died on August 30, 1585. During his career, he apparently had little interest in publishing his own music. However, Giovanni Gabrieli was instrumental in editing much of his uncle's music and preparing it for publication after his uncle's death.

Composer Title Date Action
Andrea Gabrieli Magnificat 06/24/2013 Play Add to playlist