Alessandro Orologio

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Born: 1555; Aurava di San Giorgio   Died: October 29, 1633; Vienna, Austria  
Though he would go on to be an instrumental musician of truly international fame in Europe, Allessandro Orologio apparently began life as the son of a kind of civic engineer. Pellegrino Orologio, his father, lived in Aurava, Italy, but in 1550 was given the lucrative contract to build a clock for the tower overlooking the city of Udine. Pellegrino and his brother Jacopo moved to Udine shortly thereafter, having also been granted the rights to Read more maintain all clocks in the important northern city. Allessandro was born sometime in the early 1550s, and must have learned music from a fairly young age. By 1573, he had attained enough proficiency in the science and practice of music -- both as an instrumentalist and as a singer -- to gain admittance into Udine's venerable Company of Civic Musicians, which maintained a tradition of instrumental music dating back to 1379. Unfortunately, Allessandro's father died in 1574, and he probably needed to take up the family clock-making business; thus, he would also be known by the sobriquet "orologio."

Allessandro was still destined for a musical career, however, and by 1580 he took an important courtly musical post, serving the Hapsburg Emperor Rudolph II in Prague. Orologio would continue to serve the Holy Roman Emperor's court for more than 20 years. He traveled so widely in the Emperor's service that historians once thought there must have been two men of his name. While serving the imperial courts in Dresden, Kassel, Konigsberg, and Wolfenbüttel, the busy Orologio also found time to print several volumes of music: madrigals, canzonettas, and instrumental pieces for the imperial ceremonies of state, as well as quite a bit of church music. In 1594, on a visit to the court of the King of Denmark, the musician met John Dowland, who named Orologio a profound influence in a later preface. In 1603 Orologio was named to the post of vice chapelmaster for the entire imperial court, and in 1613 he moved into semi-retirement, still composing music yet enjoying a generous imperial pension for his service. He made his will in February 1633 in Vienna, and passed away later in that year, having enjoyed an excellent and lengthy career. Read less

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