History and origin of the Chazan (professional Jewish singer) – Early days – Part 2
Towards the end of the 16th century, musical taste in most of Christian Europe, underwent profound changes. The cultured Jews observed that in the churches, the polyphonic music, with its rich harmonies and contrasts, was replacing the discolored and monotonous medieval melodies .
However, the Jews that lived, in a certain sense, confined in their neighborhoods, they were permeated by the social changes that took place in their environment.
At the artistic point of view, too, demands increased, and as their Christian contemporaries, not only the spiritual elevation of prayers was enough for them. They also wanted to obtain an esthetic and sensory pleasure.
Towards the end of the Renaissance, in the musical performances of the Italian Jews, these changes could be observed.
Several music schools, in the 15th and 16th centuries, were leaded by Jewish musicians from Venice and Ferrara, where students Jewish and Christian studied.
And precisely, in this environment of cultural and musical exchange, a new category of Chazanim emerged, officiating at the Italian synagogues.
These Chazanim fused the traditional Jewish liturgical melodies with the refined Italian musical art of the period. An Italian musical art with its own vocal, rhythmic and melodic style; that was at the height of the most demanding European standards.
To better understand this fact, we can refer to “L’Ebreo Mantuano”, as it was called the noble chazan of Venice Salomone Rossi.
Salomone Rossi was a stupendous violinist, composer and tenor.
Salomone Rossi was one of the precursors of the musical variations for the new instrumental forms and the “trio sonata“.
All of them used the compositions of Salomone Rossi, as a model for the development of their own works.