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(b Lisbon, 1437; d Venice, 1508). Philosopher and biblical exegete. His writing on music forms the introduction to his commentary on Exodus xv (the ‘Song of the Sea’, 1505; I-Rvat Rossiano 925, also printed in Venice in 1579). Relying on earlier sources including Ibn Rushd's commentary on Aristotle's ...

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(fl Mantua, c1577–93). Italian harpist. He was one of a small number of Jewish musicians active in Mantua in the late 16th century. He appears to have been the grandson of Abramo dall’Arpa (not his nephew, as sometimes claimed) and, as his name implies, to have excelled as a harpist. His service for the Mantuan court may be dated from about ...

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Don Harrán

(d 1566). Italian musician. From his name it can be assumed that he excelled as a harpist. He is probably identifiable with the moneylender Abraham Levi, a prominent member of the Mantuan Jewish community. In 1542 he participated in a dramatic production at the Mantuan court, playing the part of Pan. He appears to have served the court under Duke Guglielmo in the 1550s and 60s. About ...

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(b c1435; d after 1504). Italian philosopher and biblical exegete. He wrote briefly on music in his Ḥesheq shelomoh (‘Solomon's desire’), a commentary on the Song of Solomon, written during the period 1488–92 at the request of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Music is discussed in relation to Hebrew poetics, then classified for its varieties and described for its powers. Under poetics, Alemanno notes that the word ...

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Don Harrán

(b Cesena, 1515; d Padua, 1611). Italian grammarian, poet and rabbi. He refers to music in his treatise on Hebrew grammar, ‘Arugat ha-bosem’ (‘Bed of spices’), which survives in both a manuscript ( GB-Lbl Add.27011) and a printed source (Venice, 1602). Subjects of special relevance to music include accentuation, metres and poetical forms. Under accentuation, Archivolti describes the biblical accents (...

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Pier Paolo Scattolin

(b Bologna, between 1536 and 1539; d Bologna, probably on Dec 22, 1613). Italian composer and singer. He was a Minorite and was of Jewish origin. He is first heard of at Padua, where documents (in I-Pca ) show that on 2 May 1567...

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Don Harrán

(fl 1616). Italian composer. He was one of only a few Jewish composers of art music in the 16th and early 17th centuries. It is not clear whether the name Civita refers to his place of birth (Cividale) or his surname, although the latter seems more probable. He appears to have had connections with Mantua and may have lived there. This assumption is supported by the dedication of his only publication, ...

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Don Harrán

(b Mantua, 1470; d Salonika [now Thessaloniki], 1526). Rabbi, philosopher. He was the son of the scholar Judah Messer Leon. David refers to music, briefly, in his treatise Sheva ḥ ha-nashim (‘Praise of women’), a commentary on Proverbs xxxi. Acknowledging the wonders of music in ancient Israel, he praises the skills of the Levites and the power of music to awaken prophecy. It is not enough to sing, rather the singer must be well trained and have a sweet voice. Song is intrinsic to life’s activities: King David is said to have sung to God at all times, in sickness and in health. The author explains the origins of the term ...

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Isabel Pope and Tess Knighton

(b Salamanca, July 12, 1468; d León, late 1529 or early 1530). Spanish poet, dramatist and composer. He was born Juan de Fermoselle in Salamanca, where his father was a shoemaker; it has been suggested that he was of Jewish descent. One of at least seven children, he, like several of his brothers, pursued a career that brought him into contact with the higher echelons of society. Diego de Fermoselle was professor of music at Salamanca University from ...

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(fl 1539–47). South Netherlandish composer. The only biographical information about him comes from the account books of the Confraternity of Our Lady in 's-Hertogenbosch. He emigrated from Bruges in 1539, having been engaged by the brotherhood in September, and began his official duties as choirmaster on 31 December. He held the post until ...

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Peter Holman

Family of string players, active in Italy and then England. They were Sephardi Jews, and it is likely that they were expelled from Spain in 1492 and subsequently settled in Milan and Venice. Three individuals ‘de Milano’, Ambrosio, Romano and Alexandro, were among the six string players recruited in Venice for the English court in ...

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Don Harrán

(b c1530; d 1590). Rabbi and exegete . Music is treated at length in his sermon Higayon be-khinor (‘Strummings/Meditations on the Lyre’; ed. and Ger. trans. H. Schmueli, Tel Aviv, 1953), the first of 52 sermons in the collection Nefutsot yehudah (‘Judah's Dispersions’; Venice, ...

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Robert Stevenson

(bc 1515; d ?Toledo, 1579). Spanish organist of Jewish descent. He served as assistant to the blind Francisco Sacedo, who was principal organist of Toledo Cathedral from 22 January 1541 until his death shortly before 7 August 1547. Peñalosa, who had by then become a priest in the Toledo diocese, was elected his successor on ...

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Peter Holman

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(b 1542; d Mantua, 1612). Italian Jewish physician and writer on Hebrew antiquities. He discussed music, at great length, in his final work Shil ṭei ha-gibborim (‘Shields of Heroes’; Mantua, 1612), in which he glorified the ancient Temple, its architecture, its liturgy and its music. Ten of the 90 chapters are devoted to music. Portaleone conceived the music of the Levites after Italian Renaissance practices and humanist music theory: thus the discussion turns on polyphony, lute tablatures, contemporary instruments (in analogy to ancient ones, which are described in considerable detail), modes, the doctrine of ethos, simple and compound intervals and the differentiation between consonance and dissonance. He maintained that music in the Temple was a learned art, acquired after a rigorous course of training; it was notated, thus meant to be preserved; its performance was based on written sources. Portaleone acknowledged Judah Moscato as his teacher, although he noted that they conceived music differently: whereas Moscato spoke, generally, of number, harmony and ‘science’, treating music for its cosmological and spiritual connotations, his pupil was concerned with ...

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Iain Fenlon

(b Rovere, fl c1575). Italian composer. He was a member of the thriving Jewish community in 16th-century Mantua which, despite escalating persecution, made vital contributions to the theatrical and musical life at court, particularly in the last 30 years of the century. Sacerdote's first and only known publication, ...

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Peter Holman

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Peter Holman

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