Lodovico Grossi da Viadana (usually Lodovico Viadana,
though his family name was Grossi; c. 1560 – 2 May
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 (Williams and Ledbetter
2001)—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.
Ave verum corpus (Hail, true body), is a motet composed
by Viadana (date unknown). It is a setting of the Latin
hymn Ave verum corpus. The motet was composed for the
feast Corpus Christi and it is scored for SATB
Although originally created for four (4) voices, I
created this Interpretation of the "Ave verum corpus"
(Hail, true Body) for Viola Quartet.