Tarquinio Merula (1594 or 1595 ? December 10, 1665) was an Italian composer, organist, and violinist of the early Baroque era. Although mainly active in Cremona, stylistically he was a member of the Venetian school. He was one of the most progressive Italian composers of the early 17th century, especially in applying newly developed techniques to sacred music. He was born in Cremona, where he probably received early musical training, and where he was first employed as an organist. In 1616 he took a position as organist at S Maria Incoronata in Lodi, where he remained until 1621, at which time he went to Warsaw, Poland to work as an organist at the court of Sigismund III Vasa.
In 1626 he returned to Cremona, and in 1627 became maestro di cappella at the cathedral there, but he only remained for four years, moving to Bergamo to accept a similar position in 1631. Alessandro Grandi, his predecessor, had died in the terrible plague of 1630 (which affected many cities in northern Italy, including Venice), and he faced the formidable task of rebuilding the musical institution there after many of its members had died.
Unfortunately Merula got into trouble with some of his students, and was charged with indecency; he chose to return to Cremona, where he remained until 1635. During this period in his life he seems to have had numerous troubles with his employers, possibly of his own making; after fighting with the administrators at Cremona over a variety of issues, he returned to Bergamo, serving this time at a different church, but was disallowed from using any musicians from his former place of employment. In 1646 he went back to Cremona for the final time, serving as maestro di cappella at the Laudi della Madonna until his death in 1665.
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