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Giovanni Croce
c.1557 - 1609
G. Croce
Giovanni Croce -also: Joanne a Cruce Clodiensis- (c.1557 - 15/05/1609), an Italian composer of secular and liturgical music (from Chioggia).
Source: Grove’s dictionary of music and musicians
Contributor:Tassos Dimitriadis (picture)
Giovanni Croce ; also named Joanne a Cruce Clodiensis, Joanne a Cruce Clodiense, Zuanne Chiozotto or Chiozzotto (1557 – 15 May 1609) was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance, and representative of the Venetian School. He was particularly prominent as a madrigalist, one of the few among the Venetians other than Monteverdi.
Croce was born in Chioggia, a fishing town on the Adriatic coast south of Venice, the same town as Gioseffo Zarlino (1517-1590), and he came to Venice early, becoming a member of the boys’ choir at St. Mark's under Zarlino's direction by the time he was eight years old. Zarlino evidently found him in a choir in Cioggio Cathedral, and recruited him for St. Mark's. Croce may have been a parish priest at the church of Santa Maria Formosa, and he took holy orders in 1585; during this period Croce also served as a singer at St. Mark's. He evidently maintained some connection, probably as a director of music, with Santa Maria Formosa alongside his duties at St. Mark's.
After the death of Zarlino, Croce became assistant maestro di cappella; this was during the tenure of the maestro Baldassare Donato (1530-1603). When Donato died in 1603 Croce took over the principal job as maestro di cappella but the singing standards of the famous St. Mark's cathedral declined under his direction, most likely due more to his declining health than his lack of musicianship. He died in 1609; the position of maestro di cappella went to Giulio Cesare Martinengo (c.1564-1613) until 1613, at which time Monteverdi (1567-1643) was appointed maestro di cappella.
Croce’s sacred church music is also conservative. Croce was a prolific church composer. His motets and masses include works written for a small choir, probably that of his parish church, which seem to reflect the needs of the Council of Trent in the audibility of the words and their general simplicity. The bundle motets for four voices (1597) is clearly designed for less ambitious choirs, perhaps an example due to the regulations of the Council of Trent. Nevertheless most of his sacred works are set for the very distinguished singers and musicians of the famous St. Marks in Venice and for a freelance ensemble of professional singers (Scuole Grande) in Venice conducted by Giovanni Croce himself. Croce published 15 volumes with sacred and secular music. Croce’s canzonetta and madrigals were reprinted in the Low countries and in England, (Musica transalpina (1597)) and Croce was famous for his musical settings (Mascarate piacevoli) at Venetian Carnivals published in 1590.
Author:Wim Goossens
Missa de Requiem Quattuor vocibus
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1589
Musical form:Mass for quattor voces aequalium
Text/libretto:Latin from the Missa pro defunctis
This requiem is for four voices.
This Missa pro defunctis has the following eight movements:
- Introitus: Requiem aeternam
- Kyrie: Kyrie, Christe, Kyrie
- Graduale: Requiem, plainchant
- Tractus: Asolve Domine, plainchanrt
- Sequentia: Dies Irae
- Offertorium : Domine Jesu Christe
- Sanctus: Sanctus & Hosanna
- Bendedictus: Benedictus & Hosanna
- Agnus Dei: Agnus Dei I, II & III
- Post Communionem: Lux Aeterna

This Missa pro defunctis is set by Giovanni Croce for four lower voices (ATTB) in about 1589.
Croce is a representative of the Venetian school but in the early works you see some influence of Palestrina (1525-1594). In this small Missa pro Defunctis, written in about 1589, Croce made use of the plainchant in a short variety of forms. The Tractus and the Gradual are omitted by him and sung in Plainchant during the services. The used text is in the score. This Missa pro Defunctis is certainly used in the Office services and is found too in the bibliotheca della musica of the famous Basilica di S. Marco in Venice, more special in the score of Santo Barbieri a Bassus of the Cappella Sancti Marci.
But here in this Missa pro defunctis contrary to the Missa pro defunctis by Asola (1528-1609) where we saw more homophonic treatment in function of the text due to the Council of Trent, Croce still uses imitative polyphonic style quoting plainchant motives in some movements.
Nevertheless homophonic parts are found in this Requiem especially in the whole Dies Irae, parts of Domine Jesu Christe, Agnus Dei and Lux aeterna.
In the first movement Requiem aeternam , Altus and Tenor II start with the Requiem in plainchant. Altus, Tenor I and Bassus follow in modest imitative polyphonic way. Croce quotes the whole Gregorian plainchant using long notes in an uni sono way set in the Tenor II. In Ms 33 Tenor II quotes solo in plainchant the Te decet hymnus Deus in Sion , followed by full Chorus in a solid homophonic way up to Ms 48 ending with veniet in F-major. As from Ms 49 the whole Requiem will be repeated up to Ms 80 in the same texture as in the first measures , which is normal practice in Roman rite. This first movements contains 80 measures.
The Kyrie, second movement contains 41 measures and is written in a modest polyphonic style and starts with Altus , followed by Tenor I, Bassus and Tenor II. The plainchant is lightly touched. The Christe starts in the same imitative style now by Tenor II, followed by Tenor I, Bassus and Altus. The last Kyrie is written compared to the first Kyrie in an alternative polyphonic short contrapuntal manner started by Tenor I, followed by Tenor II, Bassus and Altus . The Gradual and Tractus out of the Liber Usualis, since 1570 official part of the office of the Dead, are omitted by Croce but seen the text in the original score will be sung in plainchant. Interesting is the indication for the organ-player, singers or players. “Falsa Bordone dopo l’Epistola”. Is a technique of musical harmonisation used in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance.
The Sequence Dies Irae is the third very long movement and used by Croce like for instance Jacobus de Kerle (1531-1591), Guilio Belli (c.1560-1621) and Asola (1528-1609) did in following the orders and the concluded implementation of the Dies Irae in the Office of the Dead by the Council of Trent.
This setting of the Dies irae contains 208 measures and is set in this case all the way for full ATTB.
The strophes 1, 7, and 13 have the same settings, so did Croce with the strophes 3, 9 and 15 in by the way an excellent 3/1 time and further too with the strophes 5, 11 and 17, indeed following the known musical structure of the Dies Irae. The strophes 2, 8 and 14 have the same settings, so the 4, 10 and 16 and further the 6, 12 and 18. Which is normal.
It is possible and advisable in the execution the strophe with the straight numbers to be performed uni sono in plainchant, excluded Strophe 20 , Pie Jesu Domine. The odd numbers will be sung by Chorus ATTB. On the other hand you can change the sequence to start the plainchant with the odd number and so on! At the end as from Ms 194 in the phrase “Pie Jesu”, Croce uses long notes to accentuate the text merciful Jesu! and is set following a conclusion ending with a short imitative polyphonic Amen.
The Dies Irae Is set in D-Dorian.
The Offertorium, Domine Jesu Christe, the fourth movement is set for four voices ATTB and contains 74 measures. Croce starts in homophonic style. The sentence “Quam olim Abrahae” (Ms 39) starts in all voices in imitative polyphonic style ending in a homophonic way.
As from Ms 49 Croce starts with a free quotation of the plainchant “Hostias et preces tibi Domine laudis offerimus”, followed by a short imitative piece (Ms 50) for Tenor I, Tenor II and Altus ending in a full homophonic chorus ATTB. Of course Croce ends this movement in accordance with prescribed Gregorian practice (See Liber Usualis page 1814) again (as from Ms 65) with “Quam olim Abrahae” in the same short imitative polyphonic style in all voices ending in a homophonic way “et semini eius”. Contrary to the other movements of this Requiem we wonder why Croce sets this Offertorium in a higher texture! The Sanctus and Benedictus are very short, respectively 19 and 11 measures and are based on modest polyphonic style with some independent rhythms and polyphonic movements in the beginning. The Pleni sunt coeli is homophonic and Hosanna is set in imitative polyphony. Contrary to that beginning of the Sanctus, the very short Benedictus is homophonic with some rhythmic variations and another imitative Hosanna and is set in A- Aeolian. The Sanctus starts with a short plainchant phrase in Tenor II.
The Agnus Dei I, II, III in total 25 measures starts in each with a short known plainchant phrase (by Tenor II), followed by homophonic style with some independent rhythm, nevertheless the last dona eis requiem is homophonic with some minor rhythmic changes.
The last movement Post Communionem starts with the plainchant introduction “Lux aeterna” by Tenor II followed by homophonic ATT joined by Bassus two bars later. With the next plainchant “Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine” by Tenor II followed with the homophonic ATTB of the last sentences as from Ms 10 “Et lux perpetua…” ends this eighth movement of this Missa de Requiem by Croce.
This Post Communionem is set by an at this stage unknown Maestro Piro and not by Ciovanni Corce as stated in the score: “del Maestro Piro not del Croce”. It’s uncertain from what time this movement is of course a setting before 1800! Overall this Missa de Requiem is set in a low texture excluded unexplained the Offertorium movement as we mentioned above.
The large score of this Missa pro defunctis is worked out in 2018 by the Cantores di Sancti Marco Venezia Italy, maestro Marco Gemmani and found in their archives more specific in Partitura da D. Santo Barbieri Basso di Capella l’Anno 1800. Unfortunately this score is not worked out from the unfortunately lost original dated 1589! A. D. 1598 Missa de Requiem quatuor vocibus Auctore Joanne a Cruce il Chiozzotto nuncupato, Ducalis Cappella d. Marci Venetiarum Magistro Of course all the Missa pro Defunctis composed in the Renaissance period we saw are compositions written with deep devotion and painful hope, but in music terms they seems unbeatable most impressive. Nevertheless contrary to that Croce worked mostly in a modest conservative style. So in this Missa de Requiem.
Author: Wim Goossens