A group of Israeli musicians has been performing the sacred and secular work of Salomone Rossi, who composed music both for the synagogue and to entertain the dukes of Mantua. Rossi, a product of heightened cultural interaction between Jews and Christians in Renaissance Italy, introduced elements of modern European music into the Jewish liturgy and was himself a great musical innovator. Geoffrey Clarfield explains:
Three years before [Claudio] Monteverdi, in his madrigals, Rossi pioneered the use of the basso continuo part. In 1607 his compositions featured the first trio sonatas to have ever appeared in Europe. He probably invented the form. We must remember, then, that Rossi was just one, even if he was the best, of a significant number of Italian Jews who were masters of and contributors to the classical music of the time. . . . During the last few years of Rossi’s life, the Jews of Italy and, later, almost all Jews of Western Europe were confined to ghettos. His last pieces were written in Hebrew and correspond to that time when he and his family were moved to the ghetto of Mantua. This is his famous collection called the Songs of Solomon . . . referring (in a typical Renaissance play on words) to himself, the composer, not the ancient Israelite king. They are the first musical rendering of the Hebrew Psalms known to us in the European polyphonic tradition. They were designed to be interspersed in the synagogue liturgy of his coreligionists in Mantua and Venice.