Bergamo is a town in Lombardy, Italy, about 40km northeast of Milan. It is home to Orio al Serio International Airport, which serves Milan, Italy's low-cost market. The foothills of the Alps begin immediately north of the town.
The commune of Bergamo covers 39.6 km2, and is home to 113,143 inhabitants. It resides within the Province of Bergamo.
Bergamo occupies the site of the ancient town of Bergomum, which was a Roman municipality. It was destroyed by Attila in the 5th century. Between 1264 and 1428 the town was ruled by Milan, but passed to Venetian control until 1797; the Venetians fortified the higher portion of the town.
Bergamo has a prominent place in music history. The large Romanesque church of S Maria Maggiore, begun in 1137, had a continuous and well-documented tradition of music teaching and singing for more than eight hundred years. Since the town was under Venetian control, the musical style of the Venetians was imported as well; in particular, a large instrumental ensemble grew up to support the choral singing. Composers such as Gasparo Alberti produced polychoral music with two organs, brass and viols, a style usually associated with Venice, but which flourished in the fine acoustical environment of S Maria Maggiore.
Prominent musicians born in Bergamo include Gaetano Donizetti, Pietro Locatelli, and Antonio Lolli. Alessandro Grandi, one of the most progressive composers of the early 17th century after Monteverdi, was maestro di cappella there until his death in the plague of 1630; Tarquinio Merula, an even more progressive composer, and one of the founders of the early sonata, took over his post.