Andrea Gabrieli was the much beloved uncle and mentor of Giovanni (who said ‘I am little less than [his] son’). He studied under Willaert, and amongst his own pupils were his nephew Giovanni and the German composer Hans Leo Hassler. Having finished runner-up to Claudio Merulo at his first audition at St Mark’s, Andrea was nevertheless successful when the position became vacant again, on Merulo’s promotion to primo
in 1566. When Merulo departed for Parma in 1584, Andrea moved to primo
, conveniently vacating secondo
for his nephew. In fact, Giovanni would spend only a year as secondo
, taking over as primo
on the death of his uncle in 1586. Andrea seems to have been somewhat reticent about publishing his music, which Giovanni sought to amend after his uncle’s death. In the touching dedication to the 1587 publication of music by Andrea, he wrote that there are ‘few indeed composers and organists as excellent as he is’. Andrea Gabrieli nevertheless took time to emerge from the shadow of his nephew, and it is not insignificant that the current musicians of St Mark’s hold him in the very highest esteem amongst their sixteenth-century predecessors.
from notes by Charles Cole © 2024