Francisco Leontaritis

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Francisco Leontaritis or Francesco Londarit or Francesco Londarit, Franciscus Londariti, Leondaryti, Londaretus, Londaratus or Londaritus (1518-1572) was a Greek composer, singer and hymnographer from today's Heraklion of the Venetian-dominated Crete (Candia) at the Renaissance age. He is considered by many as the father of modern Greek classical music.[citation needed]


Leontaritis was born in 1518 in Crete, son of the Greek catholic priest Nikolaos Leondaritis and his mistress Maria Siminopoula. After solving the problems of legitimacy, Nikolaos promoted Francisco to priesthood. In 1535 he is found as priest in the catholic church of Saint Tito (Hagios Titos) of Candia. Between 1537 and 1544 he was the organ player in the same church. It is not known how he studied music. In 1544 he appears to be a composer. He was an established musician and moved from Crete to Italy to study Renaissance polyphonic music. In 1549, because of his good voice, he became member of the famous choir of St. Mark in Venice under the direction of Adrian Willaert.

He was a student of some of the greatest musicians of his time like Orlande de Lassus and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. He established a reputation very quickly in Venice as a very capable composer and singer (cantore). He was thus invited to sing in churches in Rome and Padova. He was summoned to perform often at houses of nobles such as Antonio Zantani. His acquaintance with Nikolaus Stopius and through him to the German banker Jakob Fugger led him to Bavaria in Munich. He also worked as a composer in Augsburg and Salzburg. In 1568 he returned to Crete possibly to avoid his debts. He worked as organ player and teacher of music in St. Titus. He probably died in 1572.


He was established in music dictionaries as "il Greco" (The Greek). He composed three masses and twenty one motets, madrigals and napolitans. From his work only three masses have survived until today; namely: Missa super Aller mi faut, Missa super Je prens en grez and Missa super Letatus sum.

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