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ROSSI, SOLOMON:

Rabbi and composer; lived in Mantua during the latter part of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century. He came from an old Mantua family in which the traditional belief had been preserved that its ancestors had been taken as prisoners to Rome under Titus and Vespasian. In 1587 Rossi was engaged as musician and singer at the ducal court of Vincenze I. of Mantua, where his sister Europa was employed as a singer. That Rossi stood in high favor at this court is evidenced by the fact that he was allowed to appear in public without the yellow badge which other Mantua Jews were at that time obliged to wear.

Rossi was a skilled contrapuntist, and he worked assiduously to compose synagogal music with which the old sacred melodies of Zion might be harmoniously combined. His "Ha-Shirim Asher li-Shelomoh" (Venice, 1622) gives evidence of the success he attained; and it has been said that Leon of Modenaand other Italian rabbis were influenced by Rossi when they issued their letter (1605) authorizing the introduction into the synagogue of mensurate and polyphonic music.

Rossi's other compositions comprised chiefly religious poems, hymns, and madrigals; he wrote also a musical drama entitled "Maddalena." Several of his poems were dedicated to persons of princely rank. It is likely that Rossi in 1612 was the leader of a Jewish band of singers, and likewise of a theatrical company.

Bibliography:
  • S. Naumbourg, Ha-Shirim Asher li-Shelomoh, Cantiques de Salomon Rossi, Hebreo, Paris, 1877;
  • Adolph Kohut, Berühmte Israelitische Männer und Frauen, p. 81;
  • Ed. Birnbaum, Jüdische Musiker am Hofe von Mantua 1542-1628, Vienna, 1893.
D. F. C.
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