Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643), was an Italian organist and one of the first great masters of organ composition. He strongly influenced the German Baroque school through the work of his pupil J.J. Froberger.
Frescobaldi began his public career as organist at the church of Sta. Maria in Trastevere in Rome, in 1607. He travelled to the Netherlands the same year and published his first work, a book of madrigals, in Antwerp.
In 1608 he became organist at St. Peter’s in Rome, and, except for the period when he was court organist at Florence (1628–34), he remained at St. Peter’s until his death.
Frescobaldi’s fame rests on his instrumental works. Among these, keyboard compositions predominate, but the canzone for unspecified instruments with basso continuo are of outstanding historical significance in the development of pieces for small instrumental ensembles. They are of a transitional type that led to the fully developed trio sonata, which was the principal chamber music medium until it was displaced by the string quartet.
In 1626 he published, again in open score, a collection of 10 pieces. The composer’s preface contains valuable information about performance: “Should the player find it tedious to play a piece right through he may choose such sections as he pleases, provided only that he ends in the main key.… The opening passages should be played slowly so that what follows may appear more animated. The player should broaden the tempo at cadences.…”