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The 16th century witnessed an astonishing flowering of instrumental music in Venice.
At the heart of this artistic explosion was the emblematic focal point of St Mark’s Basilica, with its cappella (choir, orchestra and organists), its rich tradition of liturgical and devotional practice, and its role as the venue for the numerous festivities associated with the history, power and splendour of the Venetian Republic. Music emanated from the basilica to many other parishes, to the religious confraternities, orphanages, artistic academies, palaces of the nobility and, before long, theatres.
Dance music in particular flourished.
Various sub-genres developed, some from folk traditions, others by association with specific instruments or the sights and sounds of nature. These genres include the passamezzo, pavana, romanesca, gagliarda and saltarello, several of which were often grouped together to make up a suite. At the same, and partly as a consequence of these developments, organ music flourished too, its repertoire largely consisting of the contrapuntal ricercare, the showpiece toccata and transcriptions of dance music.
Transcriptions of a different kind come from 17th- and 18th-century Venice, in the form of arrangements of string concertos by Albinoni and Vivaldi by Johann Gottfried Walther, cousin and contemporary of J. S. Bach.
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