Lodovico Grossi da Viadana (usually Lodovico Viadana,
though his family name was Grossi; c. 1560 – 1627) was
an Italian composer, teacher, and Franciscan friar of
the Order of Friars Minor Observants. He was the first
significant figure to make use of the newly developed
technique of figured bass, one of the musical devices
which was to define the end of the Renaissance and
beginning of the Baroque eras in music.
He was born in Viadana, a town in the province of
Mantua (Italy). According to a document dating from
about 150 years after his death, he was a member of the
Grossi family but took the name of his birth city,
Viadana, when he entered the order of the Minor
Observants prior to 1588 (Mompellio 2001). Though there
is no contemporary evidence, it has been claimed that
he studied with Costanzo Porta (Mompellio 2001),
becoming choirmaster at the cathedral in Mantua by
1594. In 1597 he went to Rome, and in 1602 he became
choirmaster at the cathedral of San Luca in Mantua. He
held a succession of posts at various cathedrals in
Italy, including Concordia (near Venice), and Fano, on
the east coast of Italy, where he was maestro di
cappella from 1610 to 1612 (Mompellio 2001). For three
years, from 1614 to 1617, he held a position in his
religious order which covered the entire province of
Bologna (including Ferrara, Mantua and Piacenza). By
1623 he had moved to Busseto, and later he worked at
the convent of Santa Andrea, in Gualtieri, near Parma.
He died in Gualtieri (Mompellio 2001).
Viadana is important in the development of the early
Baroque technique of basso continuo, and its notational
method, known as figured bass. While he did not invent
the method—figured basses occur in published sources
from at least as early as 1597. He was the first to use
it in a widely distributed collection of sacred music
(Cento concerti con il basso continuo), which he
published in Venice in 1602. Agostino Agazzari in 1607
published a treatise describing how to interpret the
new figured bass, though it is clear that many
performers had by this time already learned the new
method, at least in the most progressive musical
centers in Italy.
A Missa sine nomine, literally a "Mass without a name",
is a musical setting of the Ordinary of the Mass,
usually from the Renaissance, which uses no
pre-existing musical source material, as was normally
the case in mass composition. Not all masses based on
freely composed material were so named, but many were,
particularly from the late 15th century through the
16th century. One of the earliest examples of a Missa
sine nomine is by Guillaume Dufay, whose Missa
Resvelliés vous (formerly known as a Missa sine nomine)
dates from before 1430, and possibly as early as 1420.
It may have been written for the wedding of Carlo
Malatesta and Vittoria di Lorenzo in Rimini. Many other
composers wrote Missae sine nomine, including Walter
Frye, Barbingant, Alexander Agricola, Johannes
Tinctoris, Matthaeus Pipelare, Heinrich Isaac, Pierre
de La Rue, Josquin des Prez, Jean Mouton, Vincenzo
Ruffo, and Lodovico Viadana.
Although originally created for four (4) voices, I
created this Interpretation of the "Missa sine nomine"
(Nameless Mass) for Winds (Flute, Oboe, English Horn &
Bassoon) & Strings (2 Violins, Viola & Cello).