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Giovanni Animuccia

Italian composer, choirmaster (1500-1571)

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Animuccia, GIOVANNI, an Italian composer, b. at Florence about 1500; d. 1571. He was a pupil of Claude Goudimel. He was made choirmaster at the Vatican and retained this position until his death. He was the real predecessor of Palestrina not only in office, but also in his earnest endeavors to attain harmonic clearness in the midst of all the devices of counterpoint then so much in vogue. He aimed at perfecting the style of the old Flemish school by harmonic fullness, by a more natural melodic progression of the voices, and a closer correspondence of the melody with the text. His friendship with St. Philip Neri resulted in his appointment as music-master to the new society founded by the Saint. He composed the first laudi for its use. These laudi were songs of praise for several voices, and were always performed after the sermon. For the sake of variety, Animuccia composed single stanzas and later on single lines in the shape of solos, concluding with a powerful and effective chorus. A first volume of them appeared in 1566, a second in 1570. These laudi proved to be the germs of the later oratorio, for from their dramatic tone and tendency the oratorio seems to have been developed. In this sense St. Philip Neri has been called the “Father of the Oratorio‘. In addition, Animuccia composed many masses, motets, psalms, and madrigals of which some were published in Venice and Rome, 1548-68. But his compositions which were never printed are far more numerous, and the MSS. of them today are, for the most part, in the Sistine Chapel.—ANIMUCCIA, PAOLO, brother of Giovanni, d. at Rome, 1563. He was choirmaster at the Lateran for two years (1550-52). He left little printed music. There is a motet of his in a collection published at Venice (1568), and madrigals of his composition are found in many of the miscellaneous collections published between 1551 and 1611.


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