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Don Harrán Archives - OUPblog

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  • Author: Don Harrán

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Salamone Rossi and the pressure to convert

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.

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Salamone Rossi as a Jew among Gentiles

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.

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Salamone Rossi as a Jew among Jews

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.

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Salamone Rossi, Jewish musician in Renaissance Mantua

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.

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