La Fortune fut sévère avec Pier Francesco Cavalli. Considéré par ses contemporains comme le plus important compositeur italien de son époque, il tomba rapidement dans un oubli qui tend encore à perdurer de nos jours. Ses œuvres révèlent pourtant une personnalité forte et originale qui sut, tout en assimilant à la perfection les leçons de son maître Claudio Monteverdi, offrir une ligne d’évolution nouvelle au langage et à l’esthétique musicale du XVIIème siècle. Pier Francesco Caletti Bruni naquit le 14 février 1602 à Crema, une des provinces de la Tierra ferma (possessions continentales de Venise), située dans la plaine lombarde, non loin de Milan. / Fortune was hard on Pier Francesco Cavalli: considered by his contemporaries to be the most important Italian composer of his day, he soon sank into oblivion and even today he is not as well-known as his talents deserve. Through his works we see a strong and original personality; whilst perfectly assimilating the teachings of his master Claudio Monteverdi, he also made his own inventive contribution to the musical language and style of the seventeenth century. Pier Francesco Caletti-Bruni was born on 14 February 1602 in Crema, a town in the Lombardy plain, not far from Milan, which was then under Venetian rule—it was one of the provinces of the Tierra ferma (Venice’s continental possessions).

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De 1614 à 1616, cette cité fut placée sous l’autorité d’un nouveau Podestà (gouverneur), Federico de Cavalli, riche patricien de la Sérénissime République. Sans doute fut-ce la voix du jeune Pier Francesco qui a retenu l’attention de cet homme qui le prit sous sa protection, l’emmena avec lui à Venise en 1616 et se chargea financièrement de ses études. Le 18 février 1617, l’enfant fut inscrit dans les registres de la maîtrise de la Basilique, mentionné parmi les pueri cantores (petits chanteurs) sous le nom de Pietro Francesco Bruni Cremasco. Claudio Monteverdi ayant été nommé Maestro della Capella di San Marco en 1613, Pier Francesco put donc travailler dès son arrivée sous sa direction. En 1620, il est nommé organiste à l’église Santi Giovanni e Paolo (il sera destitué de ce poste pour d’obscures raisons en 1630), et en 1625,

From 1614 to 1616, Crema was under the authority of a new Podestá (governor), Federico de Cavalli, a rich patrician from the Serene Republic. It was no doubt the sweetness of young Pier Francesco’s voice that brought him to the notice of the governor: he gave him his protection and, at the end of his term of office, in 1616, he took him to Venice, where he paid for his studies. On 18 February 1617, the boy’s name was entered—as Pietro Francesco Bruni Cremasco—on the registers of the cappella of St Mark’s as one of the pueri cantores (choirboys). As Claudio Monteverdi had been appointed Maestro della Cappella di San Marco in 1613, Pier Francesco immediately worked under his supervision. In 1620, he was appointed organist at the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo (for reasons that are unclear, he was relieved of his duties there in 1630) and in 1625 his first work was published in an anthology of solo motets (Leonardo Simonetti’s Ghirlanda sacra), along with pieces by such composers as Monteverdi, Grandi and Rovetta. The registers of St Mark’s show that, between 1613 and 1639, he gradually worked his way up the rungs in the hierarchy at the Cappella: after a period as a choirboy, he is mentioned as a tenor in 1628.

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