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Giovanni Croce

born: c1557
died: 15 May 1609
country: Italy

‘Il Chiozzotto’, the Chioggian, is the sobriquet by which Croce, the third of the ‘Giovannis’, was known, named after the small fishing port at the southern end of the Venetian lagoon. Zarlino appointed Croce, aged around eight, as a contralto in the choir of St Mark’s, having spotted him in the cathedral choir at Chioggia. Croce was ordained priest and served at Santa Maria Formosa in Venice, but he remained in the choir at St Mark’s, which was close by. A fascinating document in the hand of Baldassare Donato, the maestro at San Marco, gives some insight into the status of the choir circa 1590, naming and providing a comment on each of the singers. Croce’s entry gives his name in the local dialect: ‘Padre Zuanne Chiozzotto: a most efficient singer, and where he lacks the delicacy of voice, he makes up for it by good singing.’

Croce may have been appointed vice-maestro at St Mark’s in 1595, and certainly on Donato’s death was elected maestro there in 1605. Just two years later, Bartolomeo Moresini was appointed vice-maestro to aid him as his health was weak, and he died in 1609. Croce grew a significant international reputation as a writer of madrigals, influencing among others the English composer Thomas Morley. When John Dowland visited Venice in 1595 it was Croce, rather than Gabrieli, whom he came to see.

Despite embracing the world of secular music, Croce’s motets are much more conservative than those of Giovanni Gabrieli and closer to the world of Palestrina.

from notes by Charles Cole © 2024


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