Giovanni Croce (also Ioanne a Cruce Clodiensis, Zuanne Chiozotto) (1557 –
May 15, 1609) was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance, of the Venetian School. He was particularly prominent as a madrigalist, one of the few among the Venetians other than Monteverdi.
He was born in
Chioggia, a fishing town on the Adriaticcoast south of Venice, the same town as Gioseffo Zarlino, and he came to Venice early, becoming a member of the boy's choir at St. Mark's under Zarlino's direction by the time he was eight years old. Zarlino evidently found him in a cathedral choir in Chioggia, and recruited him for St. Mark's. [Arnold, p. 35] Croce may have been a parish priest at the church of Santa Maria Formosa, and he took holy orders in 1585; during this period he also served as a singer at St. Mark's. He evidently maintained some connection, probably as a director of music, with Santa Maria Formosa alongside his duties at St. Mark's.
After the death of Zarlino, he became assistant "maestro di cappella"; this was during the tenure of
Baldassare Donato. When Donato died in 1603 Croce took over the principal job as "maestro di cappella" but the singing standards of the famous St. Mark's cathedral declined under his direction, most likely due more to his declining health than his lack of musicianship. He died in 1609; the position of "maestro di cappella" went to Giulio Cesare Martinengountil 1613, at which time Monteverdi took the job.
Music and influence
Croce wrote less music in the grand
polychoralstyle than Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, and as a result his music has not maintained the same fame to the present day; however he was renowned as a composer at the time, and was a large influence on music both in Italy and abroad. As a composer of sacred music he was mostly conservative, writing " cori spezzati" in the manner of Adrian Willaert, and parody masses more like the music composed by the members of the contemporary Roman School. However, later in his career he wrote some music in a forward-looking concertatostyle, which attempted to combine the innovations of Viadana with the grand Venetian polychoral manner. Throughout his career, though, both in sacred and secular music, he wrote music which was easy to perform, possibly because he wrote it for his parish church rather than for the virtuoso singers of St. Mark's: for that reason much of it, especially the secular music, has remained popular with amateurs.
Stylistically, Croce was more influenced by Andrea Gabrieli than his nephew Giovanni, even though they were exact contemporaries; Croce preferred the emotional coolness, the Palestrina clarity and the generally lighter character of Andrea's music. Croce was particularly important in the development of the
canzonettaand the madrigal comedy, and wrote a large quantity of easily singable, popular, and often hilarious music. Some of his collections are satirical, for example setting to music ridiculous scenes at Venetian carnivals ("Mascarate piacevoli et ridicolose per il carnevale", 1590), some of which are in dialect.
Croce was one of the first composers to use the term capriccio, as a title for one of the canzonettas in his collection "Triaca musicale" ("musical cure for animal bites") of 1595. Both this and the "Mascarate piacevoli" collections were intended to be sung in costumes and masks at Venetian carnivals.
His canzonettas and madrigals were influential in the
Netherlandsand in England, where they were reprinted in the second book of "Musica transalpina" (1597), one of the collections which inaugurated the mania for madrigal composition there. Croce's music remained popular in England and Thomas Morleyspecifically singled him out as a master composer; indeed Croce may have been the biggest single influence on Morley. John Dowlandvisited him in Italy as well.
References and further reading
* Articles "Giovanni Croce, Canzonetta" in "The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians", ed. Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1980. ISBN 1-56159-174-2
Gustave Reese, "Music in the Renaissance". New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0-393-09530-4
* "The New Harvard Dictionary of Music", ed. Don Randel. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-674-61525-5
Denis Arnold, "Giovanni Gabrieli and the Music of the Venetian High Renaissance." London, Oxford University Press, 1979. ISBN 0-19-315232-0
* [http://www.ifagiolini.com/croce.htm Description of Croce's masquerade music] , by DonnaMae Gustafson (Ph.D., 1992, on Giovanni Croce)
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