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Claudio Monteverdi

Claudio Monteverdi

Lived: 1567-1643
Country: Italy
Most Famous Works:
L'Orfeo (opera), Vespers for the Blessed Virgin,
9 books of Madrigals (vocal works)

Listening Links:

Ave Maris Stella (from Vespers for the Blessed Virgin)

The Scholars Baroque Ensemble - Monteverdi: Vespers Of The Blessed Virgin - Vespers Of The Blessed Virgin: Hymn: Ave Maris stella

Claudio Monteverdi was an Italian composer. He is most well-known for his opera La Favola d'Orfeo (The Fable of Orpheus). His lifespan stretched across the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods, and as a composer he provided crucial contributions to the early development of opera. He specialized in composing operas, madrigals, and motets. He is particularly renowned for his skillful vocal writing.

Monteverdi exhibited consistent development in his abilities from his first opera, La favola d’Orfeo (The Legend of Orpheus), to his last opera, L’incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea). The opera he wrote to follow these, Arianna, is now lost in performance except for the famous work's famous "Lament".

Monteverdi is often compared to his German contemporary Heinrich Sch├╝tz, a noted composer whose work also helped develop the opera form. Much like the 20th century composer Igor Stravinsky, Monteverdi showed a tremendous capacity to adapt his musical style according to the changing times.

Early Beginnings

Claudio Monteverdi was born on May 15, 1567, in Cremona, born to a surgeon. Claudio's father engaged the director of music of Cremona's cathedral to instruct Claudio and his brother in music. He was in the service of the Duke of Mantua as maestro di cappella for some eleven years, and later, became director of music at St. Mark’s church in Venice.

Monteverdi's Other Compositions

Besides his famed operas, Monteverdi's other works include some 250 madrigals, motets and sacred music, notably the Vespers. In 1630, he took holy orders after escaping the plague at Venice. From this period two more of his operas survived, the Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (The Return Of Ulysses to Country) and L'Incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea).

In 1610, Monteverdi dedicated his collection of church music, the Vespers, to Pope Paul V. This collection later became known as the "Vespers of 1610". These are a perfect introduction to Monteverdi's genius vocal writing. It was evident from the Vespers' opening chorus that for the first time, music was moving away from the private - the palace courts, and the like - into the public domain.

Claudio Monteverdi died in Venice in 1643, at the age of 76.

Monteverdi Key Works

  • Book 1 of Madrigals, 1587
  • La Favola d'Orfeo (The Fable of Orpheus), opera, 1607
  • Vespro della beata vergine (Vespers), 1610
  • Book 6 of Madrigals, including "Arianna's Lament", 1614
  • Book 8 of Madrigals, Madrigali Guerrieri e Amorosi (Madrigals of War and Love", including "The Combat Between Tancredi and Clorinda")
  • Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (The Return of Ulysses to his Homeland), opera, 1640
  • L’Incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea), opera, 1642

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