Ludovico Balbi


Born: 1545; Venice, Italy   Died: December 15, 1604; Venice, Italy  
Italian composer Ludovico Balbi was one of the minor lights of the late Italian Renaissance. Born in Venice about 1545, Balbi's name first appears on the registers of the monastery at S. Maria Gloriosa del Frari in Venice; the year 1565 finds him in Padua as a student of Costanzo Porta. From 1570 through 1578 Balbi was employed as a singer at St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice in addition to singing at the cathedral of Verona, and at the end of that Read more period he was appointed as maestro di cappella at his home base, S. Maria Gloriosa del Frari. Quite a bit of correspondence exists from the years 1579 through 1582 whereby Porta is attempting to persuade Cardinal Carlo Borromeo to appoint Balbi to the position of maestro at Milan Cathedral. When Balbi finally got the nod in 1582, he declined it and employed a typically Italian attribute in attempting to defer the appointment to an underling; this unwittingly offended some high-ranking officials within the Roman church and helped make Balbi's career trajectory a difficult one from that time forward. In 1585, Balbi did assume the position of maestro with the Cappella Anotoniana in Padua, but this was a considerable step down in prestige from the post of Maestro at Padua Cathedral, which he had previously sought. In 1593, he moved to Feltre Cathedral, and then later to the Cathedral in Treviso. In 1598, Balbi relocated for a final time back to S. Maria Gloriosa del Frari, and served there until he died in 1604.

Ludovico Balbi's output is considerable -- Gardano published at least 11 prints of his music, and pieces turn up in collections appearing at least through 1622; numerous manuscript volumes of his music likewise survive. Balbi's work remains little investigated, though that already considered appears to be in a very conservative style; in some of the correspondence left by Balbi it is clear that he took a dim view of the "second practice" that emerged during his time among composers such as Gesualdo and Monteverdi. Balbi's music isn't the equal, in qualitative terms, of that of his master Porta. Nevertheless, much work must be done to understand the faith Porta placed in Ludovico Balbi and perhaps that which qualifies it has yet to be examined. Read less

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