Renaissance organist and composer whose imaginative compositions initiated an independent literature for the organ; b. Correggio, Italy, April 8, 1533; d. Parma, May 4, 1604. His family name was Merlotti; he was known also as Claudio da Correggio. His career as organist began at the cathedral in Brescia in 1556. Thereafter he was second organist at St. Mark's, Venice (1557–66); first organist there (1566–82); and court organist at the Steccata (ducal) chapel in Parma (1584 on). He was an inspiring teacher, drawing students from all over Europe, and was also involved in organ building and, briefly, music publishing. Although he was a madrigalist of merit, his greater significance lies in his development of organ music. In particular by his use of alternating passages of technical virtuosity with passages of recitative quality or with quiet ricercar-like sections, he gave the toccata a more clearly defined character. His harmonies and passage work reveal much imagination and daring. In part 1 of Il Transilvano (1593), his pupil Girolamo Diruta (1550–?) synthesizes current musical practice and especially Merulo's teachings regarding the aesthetic as well as the technical aspects of performance.
Bibliography: Modern eds. in several collections, e.g., l. torchi, ed., L'arte musicale in Italia, 7 v. (Milan 1897–1908) v. 1, 3; g. tagliapietra, Antologia di musica antica e moderna per pianoforte, 18 v. in 14 (Milan 1931–32) v. 2; a. t. davison and w. apel, eds., Historical Anthology of Music, 2 v. (rev. ed. Cambridge, Mass. 1957) 1:168–170. a. catelani, Memorie della vita e delle opere di Claudio Merulo (Milan 1864; repr. 1931). a. einstein, The Italian Madrigal, tr. a. h. krappe et al., 3 v. (Princeton N.J. 1949), passim. w. apel, "The Early Development of the Organ Ricercar," Musica Disciplina, Yearbook of the History of Music, American Institute of Musicology, 3 (1949) 139–150. l. f. tagliavini, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949–) 9:139–143. j. r. sterndale bennett, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom, 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 5:719–720. g. reese, Music in the Renaissance (rev. ed. New York 1959). d. arnold and t. w. bridges, "Claudio Merulo," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. s. sadie, v. 12 (New York 1980) 193–194. r. a. edwards, "Claudio Merulo: Servant of the State and Musical Entrepreneur in Later Sixteenth-Century Venice" (Ph.D. diss. Princeton University 1990). r. judd, The Keyboard Works of Claudio Merulo: Organ Masses (Neuhausen-Stuttgart 1991). d. kiel, "The Madrigals of Claudio Merulo: An Edition of His 1566 and 1604 Books of Five-Voiced Madrigals with Commentary" (Ph.D. diss. North Texas State University 1979). d. m. randel, ed., The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Cambridge, MA 1996) 581. m. c. tilton, "The Influence of Psalm Tone and Mode on the Structure of the Phrygian Toccatas of Claudio Merulo," Theoria: Historical Aspects of Music Theory, 4 (1989) 106–122.
[m. t. hytrek]