Girolamo Dalla Casa

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Girolamo Dalla Casa (also known as Hieronymo de Udene, died 1601) was an Italian composer, instrumentalist, and writer of the late Renaissance. He was a member of the Venetian School, and was perhaps more famous and influential as a performer than as a composer.

Nothing is known about his life prior to his arrival at Venice, but he was probably born at Udine sometime before the middle of the 16th century. He was first hired by the musical establishment of St Mark's Basilica on 29 January 1568, along with his two brothers, Giovanni and Nicolò, where they formed the first permanent instrumental ensemble (Arnold and Marcialis 2001). The sonorous acoustical environment of this basilica was the center of activity of the Venetians. Giovanni Gabrieli clearly had Dalla Casa's group in mind for much of his music, and the Dalla Casas are presumed to have played in many the elaborate polychoral compositions of the time.[citation needed]

In 1572, Dalla Casa served as Venetian agent for the purchase of a large number of wind instruments and printed editions of music for the court of John of Austria, half-brother of Philip II of Spain and hero of the Battle of Lepanto in the previous year. The transaction, made though the Spanish resident ambassador in Venice, Diego Guzmán de Silva, came to the considerable sum of 154 scudi, 3 lire, and 20 soldi in gold. The instruments purchased included four tenor and two soprano shawms, six alto cornetts, five mute cornetts, two large [bass?] cornetts, two dulcians, and trumpets from Nuremberg and Augsburg. An unusually large sum was charged for a "'cassa di flauti grossi" (chest of large recorders), which may have included several SATB consorts. The music included five printed books by Cipriano de Rore, four books by Orlando di Lasso, four books by Vincenzo Ruffo, and a collection by Pedro Guerrero, as well as other books whose contents were not specified in the receipt, which is dated 20 February 1572 and signed in Dalla Casa's hand (Levin and Zohn 2005, 439–40, 442–44).

Dalla Casa was a virtuoso player of the cornett (Dickey 1982, 26; Whitwell 1996, 116), which he described as 'the most excellent of all the wind instruments ... because it mimics the human voice better than the other instruments do' (Dalla Casa 1584, 1:A2 verso).

The use of the Dalla Casas by Gabrieli and St. Mark's foreshadowed, and may have influenced, the development of the concertino-ripieno style of the concerto grosso in the later Baroque. Being a smaller group of virtuoso instrumentalists playing in contrast to larger instrumental and vocal forces arrayed around them, and being in the center of a hugely influential stylistic movement, they functioned as an early form of concertino. Much of the music which Gabrieli and the other Venetians wrote for them survives.[original research?]

Two books of madrigals and one book of motets survive from his compositional output, which probably was not large.[citation needed] More important to musicology, however, was his two-part 1584 treatise on ornamentation (Il vero modo di diminuir), which gives clear and precise examples of ornamentation as it was practiced in singing and playing French chansons and Italian madrigals at the time. In contrast to earlier ornamentation treatises, Dalla Casa introduced short ornamental patterns with jerky and discontinuous rhythms, such as the tremoli groppizati and groppi battute, to emphasize particular notes and heighten their emotional effect. Diminutions on intervalic skips of sixths, sevenths, and octaves also appear for the first time in this treatise, which is therefore regarded as marking the end of the purely Renaissance style of ornamentation and the beginnings of Baroque practice (Horsley 1951, 14–16). From this treatise it is clear that polyphonic works were usually performed unadorned,[citation needed] but works in a more homophonic style, and especially grand polychoral works with frequent sectional changes and prominent cadences, were embellished with ornaments, few of which appear in the actual notated music.[clarification needed]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Dalla Casa, Girolamo. 1584. Il vero modo di diminuir con tutte le sorti di stromenti di fiato, & corda, & di voce humana. 2 vols. Venice: Angelo Gardano. Facsimile reprint, with a preface by Giuseppe Vecchi, Bibliotheca musica Bononsiensis, sezione II, no. 23 (Bologna: Arnaldo Forni Editore, 1970). Another facsimile reprint in Viole de gambe: Méthodes, traités, dictionnaires et encyclopédies, ouvrages généraux, 3 vols., edited by Paolo Biordi and Vittorio Ghielmi, 1:139–249. Méthodes & traités. IV: Italie 1600–1800 No. 17 (Courlay, France: J. M. Fuzeau, 2004). English translation by Jesse Rosenberg in Historic Brass Society Journal 1, no. 1 (1989): 109–14.

References and further reading[edit]

  • Arnold, Denis. 1980. "Girolamo Dalla Casa". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd. ISBN 1-56159-174-2.
  • Arnold, Denis, and Andrea Marcialis. 2001. "Dalla Casa, Girolamo [Girolamo da Udine]". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  • Colussi, Franco, David Bryant, and Elena Quaranta. 2000. Girolamo Dalla Casa detto 'da Udene' e l'ambiente musicale veneziano. Friuli musica antica 2. Clauzetto, Italy: Società Filologica Friulana.
  • *Dickey, Bruce. 1982. "The Decline of the Cornett: Most Excellent of Wind Instruments". Musick 4, no. 1 (September): 23–32.
  • Horsley, Imogene. 1951. "Improvised Embellishment in the Performance of Renaissance Polyphonic Music". Journal of the American Musicological Society 4, no. 1 (Spring): 3–19.
  • Levin, Michael J., and Steven Zohn. 2005. "Don Juan de Austria and the Venetian Music Trade". Early Music 33, no. 3 (August): 439–46.
  • Reese, Gustave. 1954. Music in the Renaissance. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0-393-09530-4.
  • Selfridge-Field, Eleanor. 1994. Venetian Instrumental Music, from Gabrieli to Vivaldi, third, revised edition. New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-28151-5.
  • Whitwell, David. 1996. Aesthetics of Music in Sixteenth Century Italy, France, and Spain. Northridge, CA: Winds.

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