Like other Jewish musicians in later times, among them Ernest Bloch, Darius Milhaud, and Leonard Bernstein, Rossi confronted the problems, in his own time, of preserving his Jewish identity in a non-Jewish environment and of communicating with Jews and Christians in such a way as to be understood and appreciated by both.
Near to Salamone Rossi’s time, and working at the Mantuan court, is the harpist Abramino dall’Arpa. His story illustrates the unrelenting pressure brought on Jews to convert and, at the same time, Abramino’s refusal to do so.
As a Jewish musician working for the Mantuan court, and competing for the favors that its Christian musicians and composers hoped to gain, it was only inevitable for Rossi to have been considered an intruder.
By introducing “art music” into the synagogue Rossi was asking for trouble. He is said by Leon Modena (d. 1648), the person who encouraged him to write his Hebrew songs, to have “worked and labored to add from his secular to his sacred works”; “secular” meaning Gentile compositions.
What do we know of Salamone Rossi’s family? His father was named Bonaiuto Azaria de’ Rossi (d. 1578): he composed Me’or einayim (Light of the Eyes). Rossi had a brother, Emanuele (Menaḥem), and a sister, Europe, who, like him, was a musician.