Giovanni Antonio Terzi
Italian lutenist and composer. The title of his Gagliarda nova del padre dellŽautore
indicates that his father was a musician. He was apparently an accomplished singer
as well as a lutenist.
Donato Calvi, a literary man of Bergamo, wrote that he loved vocal music, but even
more that of instruments; and if with his voice he emulated the harmony of the heavens,
with the sound of his lute he vied with that of the angels.
His two surviving lutebooks show him to have been a virtuoso player. Both contain
intabulations ranging from madrigals, canzonas and motets to instrumental pieces
and dances of all kinds. The first book (1593)includes 17 compositions with two lute parts;
they may be played as duos, or each part may be performed separately, as a solo.
11 other pieces per suonar in concerti...& solo have only one lute part,
and are presumably intended for ensemble performance in unison. The later collection(1599)
offers a similar repertory, including pieces for two lutes, one for four lutes and
one for a viola bastarda to play with a liutto grande.
Of the numerous dances and purely instrumental pieces, very few are by Terzi. Several
of the intabulations include texts, but the voice part is not indicated. Both collections
draw on popular repertory, and are interesting reflections of contemporary taste.
Terzi was an extraordinarily skilful intabulator; his arrangements never obscure
the original compositions, but it is clear that he was chiefly concerned with solo
performance in a brilliant, virtuoso style. He delighted in rapid figurations and
Terzi is without doubt one of the greatest lutenists of his age and one of the most
important figures in the history of the music of
the sixteenth century, and not just that of the lute. He is the one of the last major figures
in the lutenist tradition of Francesco
da Milano, before the radical changes represented by composers such as Frescobaldi
His dances and intabulations of
other composers vocal and instrumental music is of the highest caliber, while
his own canzonas and fantasias are not quite as good as some of his contemporaries.
In this his is only showing his modernity, as the fantasia was, by his time,
a dying tradition, while the future of music (in the 17th century) would
be built mostly on dance music.