The Kennedy Center

Giovanni Maria Trabaci


Gioivanni Maria Trabaci was an Italian composer and organist who was born in what is now Irsina around 1575.  Nothing is known of his youth.  Early in his career he served as organist at the Oratorio dei Filippini in Naples.  He was appointed organist to the royal chapel of the Spanish viceroys at Naples in 1601 and became its maestro di capella in 1614.  Although he held this position for the rest of his life, he also worked elsewhere.  From 1603 to 1611 he was attached to the Capoa de Balzo family, to whom he dedicated a volume of keyboard music.  From 1625 to 1630, Trabaci was again the organist of the Oratorio dei Filippini.
His output was large and varied; his known compositions include 169 sacred vocal works, including masses, motets, psalms, antiphons, Magnificat and Passion settings, hymns, lauds and rithmi (a form based on exact metrical repetitions); 60 secular vocal works (madrigals, villanellas, dialogues and arias); and 165 keyboard works, also suitable for instrumental ensemble (ricercares, canzonas, capriccios, versetti, pieces based on cantus firmi, partite, galliards, toccatas, durezze e ligature, consonanze stravaganti and intabulations).
Trabaci was most noted for his keyboard works, two of which were written for a chromatic harpsichord and foreshadow Frescobaldi in their virtuosity and adventurous harmonic language. His similarly bold motets of 1602 may have influenced Gesualdo; his madrigals, though less chromatic and intense, demand considerable vocal skill.
He died in Naples on December 31, 1647.
Giovanni Trabaci