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Pietro Aron, also known as Pietro Aaron (1489 – after 1545), was an Italianmarker music theorist and composer. He was born in Florencemarker and probably died in Bergamomarker (other sources state Florence or Venicemarker).

Biography

Little is documented of Aron's early life, but it is known that he was of Jewish origin, and was educated in Italy. Musically he seems to have been largely self-taught. He makes the claim in his writings that he was personally familiar with Obrecht, Josquin, Heinrich Isaac, and others while he was in Florencemarker; if true, this would have had to have been in the late 1480s to mid 1490s. Between 1515 and 1522 he was cantor at the cathedral of Imolamarker, and in 1516 he became a priest there. By February 1523 he had gone to Venicemarker, was cantor of Riminimarker Cathedral and worked for Sebastiano Michiel, who was Grand Prior of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. In 1525 he was "maestro di casa" in a Venetianmarker house. In 1536, after the death of Michiel, he joined a monastery in Bergamo where he remained until the end of his life; at least one publication dates from this time.

Aron's significance mainly derives from his treatises on the contrapuntal practice of the period. His earliest treatise, De institutione harmonica, is on counterpoint, and is written in Italian: most scholarly writings of the time are in Latin, but Aron preferred the vernacular. In Thoscanello de la musica (later Toscanello in musica) he was the first to observe the change from linear writing to vertical: this was the first period in music history where composers began to become conscious of chords and the flow of harmony, and Aron includes tables of four-voice chords, the beginning of the trend which was to result in functional tonality in the early 17th century. He also discusses tuning, and the book is the first to describe quarter-comma meantone. Other topics covered by Aron include the use of the eight modes, four-voice cadences, notation of accidentals.

Aron was a friend and frequent correspondent of music theorist Giovanni Spataro. Only Spataro's letters to Aron have survived. Topics discussed by the two include contemporary composers and composition, notation, and especially the use of accidentals.

While Aron was known as a composer and frequently refers to his own works in his writings, only one composition of his survives.

Published Works

  • Libri tres de institutione harmonica (Bolognamarker, 1516 ; this edition on Vicifons)
  • Thoscanello de la musica (Venice, 1523; four reprints as Toscanello in musica 1525-1562)
  • Trattato della natura et cognitione di tutti gli tuoni di canto figurato (Venice, 1525; partially reproduced and retranslated into English in 1950 in O. Strunk's Source Readings in Music History, N.Y.)
  • Lucidario in musica di alcune opinione antiche e moderne (Venice, 1545)
  • Compendiolo di molti dubbi, segreti, et sentenze intorno al canto fermo et figurato (Milan, posthumous - title page bears the inscription: "In memoria eterna erit Aron")


Bibliography

J.W. Link, Jr., Theory and Tuning: Aaron's Mean Tone Temperament (Boston, 1963); Peter Berquist, "Mode and Polyphony around 1500; Theory and Practice", Music Forum, I (1967).

References and further reading




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