Musical composers are comparable to the great historic and political figures throughout the centuries. Some have changed the course of history with an ingenious breakthrough, while others have simply chosen to pursue a passion. Many have gathered followers and those wanting to learn of their ways. Many have also gained enemies, those who see these creative minds as a threat. Those afraid of differences and afraid of change. However, in a world where music was life, where composers were revered, praised, and showered with riches for their talents, there lived a man who crossed the musical boundaries. Through his music, he stepped into a new world full of passion and possibility. This man was Giovanni Gabrieli.
Giovanni Gabrieli was born in Venice, Italy in the mid-sixteenth century. Though Gabrieli's exact birth date is unknown, Denis Arnold, author of Giovanni Gabrieli, speculates that Gabrieli was born in or around 1555. In the era the Gabrieli was born, Venice was in its communal prime, and was the musical envy of much of Europe. "Venice was undoubtedly one of the great centers of music making" (Arnold, 9). In the mid-sixteenth century Venice was a musical f'e, with a vast array of sacred and secular music. It is very fortunate that Gabrieli would have such a variety of music surrounding and influencing him as he grew into the composer he was destined to be.
Perhaps the greatest musical influence on young Gabrieli was a paternal one as well. Andrea Gabrieli, Giovanni's uncle, was an unknown organist according to Arnold at the time of his nephew's birth. He studied under the tutelage of Orlando di Lasso, and in turn, taught his nephew and many other pupils well. Giovanni truly loved and admired his uncle. "Giovanni's esteem for his uncle glows in many a work" (Arnold, 11).
At the young age of fifteen, Giovanni's music began to be printed. He composed two madrigals, both of which Arnold speculates had much of Lasso's...