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  Giacomo Carissimi  
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Giacomo Carissimi
 
 
 
 
Giacomo Carissimi, (baptized April 18, 1605, Marino, near Rome [Italy]—died Jan. 12, 1674, Rome), one of the greatest Italian composers of the 17th century, chiefly notable for his oratorios and secular cantatas.

Following brief appointments at Tivoli and Assisi, Carissimi settled in Rome in the late 1620s as director of music at the German College and its associated Church of Sant’Apollinare and retained this post until he died. Although not an operatic composer, Carissimi helped to satisfy the Italians’ enthusiasm for opera by making its pastoral or dramatic content available in the home and in the church through his numerous oratorios and cantatas. His 16 oratorios on Old Testament subjects were “substitute operas” that could be performed during Lent, when operas were forbidden. Those episodes in which the narrative is interrupted and the characters express emotions, as in opera, show Carissimi’s basic interest and talents. In his cantatas he consolidated the pioneer work of Luigi Rossi, but in oratorio he was himself a pioneer.

Carissimi’s works are marked by emotional balance and an ideal fusion of the lyrical and the dramatic, and when working on a large scale his pronounced feeling for tonality prevents any tendency to diffuseness. His genius is well displayed in his oratorio Jephtha, lasting about 20 minutes, where both solo narrator and chorus act as commentators and the latter also take the roles of opposing groups in the story. George Frideric Handel expanded this basic scheme in his oratorios. Carissimi greatly influenced later music not only through his compositions but also through his numerous pupils. A renewed interest in the music of Carissimi has resulted in performances of some of his oratorios, including The Judgment of Solomon, Baltazar, and Judicium Extremum.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
 

Portrait engraving of Carissimi by L. Visscher after W. Vaillant
 
 
 
Giacomo Carissimi, born in Marini near Rome, was the youngest child of an artisan and grew up against the background of religious reform in Europe. A member of the Tivoli cathedral choir and an organist there until 1627, he found his real niche at the Collegio Germanico in Rome. This was a leading centre of Jesuit teaching. The Jesuits at that time had a particular influence in strengthening the Catholic Church through a programme of education and missionary work. Carissimi became Maestro di Cappella in 1629; during his service, the talent of the young
composer fused with the energies and objectives of thejesuit order. Despite invitations to serve the Governor of the Netherlands in Brussels, and the chance to follow in Monteverdi's footsteps at St Mark's, Venice, in 1643, Carissimi elected to continue his work with the Jesuits. He remained in Rome all his life, dedicating himself to the development of the boys' choir, to the general students, and to the musical output of the college and its associated church Sant' Apollinare.
Carissimi became the teacher of many other composers and gained a reputation throughout Europe. His main areas of musical interest as a composer were the cantata and the oratorio. His cantatas, such as A pie d'un verdee alloro, written around 1650, were strongly influenced by Luigi Rossi's work earlier in the century, and in
many of these works he experimented with varying approaches to arias. His work with oratorios was seminal and can be said to have helped to create this musical form — even if its actual name emerged only later. In works such as Jephte, Jonas, and Baltazar Carissimi drew on Old Testament texts and used a narrative voice, divided among several singers, to tell the story. He also used choruses, whether for dramatic, narrative, or meditative purposes, as an integral part of the works.
Regrettably, much of Carissimi's work exists only in copied form — most of his original manuscripts were lost after the dissolution of the Jesuit order in 1773. However, his influence notably pervaded the thinking of several other composers. The works of Charpentier, who studied under Carissimi in the 1650s, and Handel, whose oratorios Samson and Alexander's Feasf bear certain similarities to Carissimi's Jephte, confirm Carissimi's status as one of Italy's most influential seventeenth-century composers.
 
 
 

Engraving of a Baroque choral group by Corvmus A notable feature of Baroque church music was the use of two contrasting choirs, a practice originating in Venice.
 
 
 
 
 
Giacomo Carissimi - 'Jonas' (Historia Jonae)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Carissimi - Judicium Extremum 1/2
 
Monteverdi Choir
His Magesties Sagbutts & Cornetts
Members of the English Baroque Soloists
John Eliot Gardiner
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Carissimi - Judicium Extremum 2/2
 
Monteverdi Choir
His Magesties Sagbutts & Cornetts
Members of the English Baroque Soloists
John Eliot Gardiner
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Carissimi: Jephte (1/3) Le Parlement de Musique
 
Jephte: Luca Dordolo, tenor
Filia: Elisa Franzetti, soprano
Stephan Van Dick, altus
Mercedes Hernandez, soprano
Emmanuelle Halimi, soprano
Stephan Imboden, bass

Le Parlement de Musique,
conducted by Martin Gester

Recorded in October 2000

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Carissimi: Jephte (2/3) Le Parlement de Musique
 
Jephte: Luca Dordolo, tenor
Filia: Elisa Franzetti, soprano
Stephan Van Dick, altus
Mercedes Hernandez, soprano
Emmanuelle Halimi, soprano
Stephan Imboden, bass

Le Parlement de Musique,
conducted by Martin Gester

Recorded in October 2000

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Carissimi: Jephte (3/3) Le Parlement de Musique
 
Jephte: Luca Dordolo, tenor
Filia: Elisa Franzetti, soprano
Stephan Van Dick, altus
Mercedes Hernandez, soprano
Emmanuelle Halimi, soprano
Stephan Imboden, bass

Le Parlement de Musique,
conducted by Martin Gester

Recorded in October 2000

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Giacomo Carissimi - "Beatus Vir" a 8 voci
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
G.Carissimi - 'E' bello l'ardire', Cantata per soprano e b.c.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
GIACOMO CARISSIMI.- BALTASAR.-Oratorio
 
Coro de Cámara de la Academia Fran Lisz y solistas

Orquesta de Cámara Corelli

Director: Isban Parkal

 
 
 
 
 
 
     
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