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Gasparo Alberti

1480 - 1560
born in Padua, Italy, composed during the Renaissance period
Gasparo Alberti was a composer of liturgical music in the period that preceded Palestrina. His life is reasonably well-recorded, but was seemingly uneventful. By sometime in his late teens or early twenties Alberti was already a cleric at the church of St. Maria Maggiore in Bergamo, and he remained attached to St. Maria for the rest of his life. His subsequent rise followed a standard course of success for a liturgical musician in the Renaissance. He was ordained in 1514 and was appointed as a chaplain the following year. In 1517 he's listed as a singer in the choir and 19 years later, 1536, he acquired the rank of maestro di cappella. That same year, Alberti was in charge of the musical reception for music theorist Pietro Aaron when he arrived to join the monks of the St. Leonardo monastery in Bergamo. Alberti was suddenly forced into retirement in 1550. Evidently, he hadn't managed to ferret away enough money to keep himself going, because he took hostage some of the valuable choirbooks he'd copied for the church. With those, he managed to negotiate a two-year reappointment in 1552. It wasn't enough; in 1559 he struck an even stranger deal with St. Maggiore, donating all of his worldly goods to the church in return for a pension. The image of Alberti living out his final years in an unfurnished home is a melancholy one, but as fortune would have it, he died as soon as 1560, so he didn't suffer such material poverty for long. It's not known exactly when during these years Alberti produced his considerable body of work, but everything that survives of his music is for the church. He did what he could to align himself with contemporary developments in music, and he's among the first to compose for multiple choirs and went on to achieve a well-developed polychoral style. His best music is contained in his 1549 book of masses, which was the first published book entirely of masses by a single Italian composer. These pieces, unlike his other work -- regarded as overly derivative -- confirm him as one of the most important liturgical composers of his generation. ~ Donato Mancini, Rovi
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