Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Salamone de' Rossi

ROSSI, SALAMONE DE' (Heb. Shelomo Min-ha-Adummim; fl. first third of 17th century), composer from Mantua. Salamone de' Rossi became the leading Jewish composer of the late Italian Renaissance, and a court musician of the Gonzaga rulers of Mantua. Very little is known about his life. He was apparently the son of a certain Bonaiuto (Azariah) de' Rossi; but this Azariah cannot be identical with the well-known philosopher of the same name who expressed regret that he had no sons to survive him. Rossi's published works ranging between the years 1589–1628 are the only direct documentation on his life and work. It has been assumed that he was born about 1570. He entered the service of Duke Vicenzo I in 1587 as a singer and viola player, and soon became the leader of the duke's musical establishment and of an instrumental ensemble composed most probably of Jewish musicians. This group achieved a high reputation and was occasionally loaned to neighboring courts, as in 1612 when Alessandro, duke of Mirandola, invited "the Jew Salamon and his company" to his court. Rossi's name as a violist appears on the ducal payrolls until the year 1622. The death of the last Gonzaga duke and the sack of Mantua by the Austrian (Hapsburg) army (1628–30) put an end to the golden age of Mantuan court music. In that year, many Jews fled to the Venetian ghetto where the Mantuan music circle found a certain measure of continuation in the Jewish musical Accademia degli Impediti under the leadership of Rossi's sponsor, the famed Leone *Modena, although it cannot be ascertained whether Rossi himself was still alive and active in the Accademia. With Salamone de' Rossi, a peak was reached in Jewish contributions to western art music (see *Music). He was perhaps the last, but certainly the most important, of a long and distinguished list of Jewish court musicians (instrumentalists, singers, dancers, players) who were active in Mantua throughout the 16th century, and included Abramo dall' *Arpa (c. 1542–c. 1577), a harpist, and the son of a distinguished harpist; Abramino, his nephew; Isacchino Massarano, flutist, dancer, and dancing master (1583–99); Davit da Civita, madrigalist (published work, 1616); and Allegro Porto, composer (works published 1619, 1625).

At the Mantuan court, Rossi developed his abilities through a constant exchange of views and techniques in composition with the well-known musicians of the court, who included M.A. Ingenieri (his teacher and that of his colleague C. Monteverdi), G.G. Gastoldi, J. de Wert and L. Viadana.

Like the other Mantuan court musicians, Rossi started as a madrigalist but soon tried his creative talents at the new style of ornamental monody, i.e., songs or instrumental pieces with one leading solo voice supported by a fundamental bass. He is considered the pioneer of these new baroque forms which include the trio sonata and suite. As a Jewish musician, his lasting contribution is his Ha-Shirim Asher li-Shelomo (published by Pietro and Lorenzo Bragadini, Venice, 1622/23), 33 settings for three to eight voices of Hebrew texts, comprising psalms, hymns, and other religious poems for festive synagogue services. The settings are composed in the then prevailing a cappella style of Palestrina and G. Gabrieli, with intent to regenerate traditional musical liturgy with polyphonic choral settings.

Other musicians of the Rossi family included his sister, known as "Madama *Europa," and her sons Anselmo, Angelo and Bonaiuto. Angelo and his sons Giuseppe and Bonaiuto were musicians at the court of Savoy in Turin between 1608 and 1649.

Rossi's other published works are: Canzonette a tre voci (vol. 1, 1589; vol. 2, 1592 (lost); reprint, Venice, 1596?); Madrigali a cinque voci, vol. 1 (1596?; Antwerp, 1598?; Venice, 1600; reprints, Venice, 1603, 1607; Antwerp, 1610?; Venice, 1612?; Antwerp, 1618); vol. 2 (Venice, 1599?; Venice, 1602; reprints, Venice, 1605, 1610); vol. 3 (Venice, 1603; reprints, Venice, 1609, 1620); vol. 4 (Venice, 1610; reprint, Venice, 1613); vol. 5 (Venice, 1622); Madrigali a quattro voci (vol. 1, Venice, 1610), Madrigalleti a due voci (Venice, 1628); "Balletto," in: Musiche… composte per la Maddalena…, (Venice, 1617). Instrumental music: Sinfonie, gagliarde, etc. (vol. Venice, 1622; reprint: Venice, 1636?; 1642). Modern editions 1, Venice, 1607; vol. 2, Venice, 1608; vol. 3, Venice, 1613; vol. 4, of Rossi's works include: S. *Naumbourg and V. d'Indy (eds.), Cantiques de Salamon Rossi (1877; 33 of the 35 pieces in Ha-Shirim Asher li-Shelomo, and a selection of madrigals); F. Rikko (ed.), Ha-Shirim Asher li-Shelomo (1967; 2 vols. of transcriptions; the 3rd, with facsimiles and translations of the prefatory matter, not yet published, 1971); F. Rikko and Joel Newman (eds.), Salamon Rossi – Sinfonie, Gagliarde, Canzone 1607–1608; E. Werner (ed.), Salomone de' Rossi, Three Hebrew Compositions (1956); others, including arrangements with organ accompaniment, see Sendrey, Music, index.


MGG; Riemann-Gurlitt; Grove, Dict; Baker, Biogr Dict; Sendrey, Music, index; C. Roth, Jews in the Renaissance (1959), 274–304; S. Simonsohn, Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Dukkasut Mantovah, 2 (1964), ch. 7, and passim on other members of the Rossi family; A. Einstein, in: HUCA, 23 (1950–51), pt. 2, 383–96; E. Birnbaum, Juedische Musiker am Hofe von Mantua (1893), and an updated Italian edition by V. Colorni, in: Civiltà Mantovana, 2 (Mantova, May–June, 1967), 185–216; J. Newman, The Madrigals of Salamon de Rossi (unpubl. diss. Columbia, 1962), Ann Arbor University Microfilms 63–6121, incl. also a revised translation of A. Einstein's article in: HUCA, 23 (see above); Adler, Prat Mus, 55–64; I. Adler, in: Jewish Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies (1967), 331–2, 340–4.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.