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Canzon quarti toni

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Giovanni Gabrieli

Giovanni Gabrieli (adapt. King)

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Subtitle: Sacrae Symphoniae, Venice, 1597

General Info

Year: 1597 / 1959 / 1997
Duration: c. 4:30
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Alphonse Leduc
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $57.25


Three brass choirs of five players each


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Gabrieli's first volume of Sacrae Symphoniae, published in 1597, is a landmark of Venetian music -- a collection of motets and canzoni for brass ensembles that established the foundation of brass music for years to come. The Canzon Quarti Toni, scored for three contrasting five-part choirs, is the richest and perhaps most imposing of the collection.

However, like all the best orchestrators, Gabrieli refrains from over-using his tutti: the full ensemble is heard in only thirteen of the work’s seventy-one bars. The music starts in the manner of a sonata, with deep harmonies and with one instrument being followed in rhythmic canon by its fellows; later, more canzona-like features emerge, including a brief tripla just before the end.

- Program Note compiled by Wind Repertory Project

Sonata Pian' E Forte by Giovanni Gabrieli is from a larger work entitled Symphoniae sacrae which is considered by many to be a landmark of early Baroque style. The music was written for brass instruments to be performed in the 11th century cathedral of Saint Mark in Venice, Italy. Gabrieli as well as numerous other composers, performance and choirmasters of the cathedral were renowned artists whose musical output caused Venice to become one of the most important musical cities of the era. The cathedral contained two large organs which inspired composers like Gabrieli to write works such as Canzon quarti toni, placing choirs and various musical instrument on opposite sides of the building (cori spezzati) which created echoing effects of great proportions: two, three, four, even five choruses were employed, each with a different combination of high and low voices, each intermingled with instruments of diverse timbres, answering one another antiphonally, alternating with solo voices, and joining for massive sonorous climaxes.

- Program Note by William V. Johnson for the Cuesta Wind Ensemble concert program, 8 May 1993


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Iowa (Iowa City) Symphony Band (J.T. Womack, conductor) - 10 December 2020
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Mark Davis Scatterday, conductor) – 2 November 2020
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Orchestra (Beth Peterson, conductor) – 6 November 2018
  • California State University, Fullerton, Symphonic Winds (Patricia Cornett, conductor) - 23 April 2016

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Gabrieli, G.; King, R. [1959]. Canzon Quarti Toni, Sacrae Symphoniae, Venice, 1597, For Fifteen-Part Brass Choir [score]. Robert King Music Co.: North Easton, Mass.