Stefano Bernardi

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Aliases: Steffano Bernardi


Born: c. 1585, Verona, Italia

Died: 1636, ?Salzburg


Italian composer and theorist. Although he was primarily a church composer, Bernardi wrote a good deal of secular music, and a few of his volumes of vocal music include at the back a number of instrumental works. He published his counterpoint treatise when he was hovering on the brink of the new concertato style while still adhering to a traditional polyphonic idiom. The dichotomy between old and new is typified in the exactly contemporary 1615 collection of masses, some of which are a cappella and some concertato. The former are in a kind of watered-down post-Palestrinian idiom, fluent and occasionally expressive; one is based on Arcadelt’s famous Il bianco e dolce cigno, then almost 80 years old – a testimony to that madrigal’s incredible popularity.

Bernardi had, however, already espoused the concertato principle in the motets and psalms of 1613. In some of the former there are contrasting solo and tutti sections (though otherwise they are pale and inexpressive works), and the psalms are among the earliest to include such contrasts of texture, which an organ continuo made possible. Other psalm and mass collections by him are in a conventional stile antico, whether double choirs are used or not. But in a late volume, the Salmi concertati of 1637, he returned to the concertato manner: most interestingly he singled out only one soloist, a soprano, in all the psalms, while punctuating the solos with a four-part ripieno singing excitingly rhythmic, contrapuntal music. It is as if the solo concerto had already arrived, even if thematic integration had yet to be worked out.

View the Wikipedia article on Stefano Bernardi.

List of choral works

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External links