Claudio Monteverdi was a composer of sacred and secular music, the most important Italian composer during the transition from the Renaissance to baroque style. His operas are the first masterpieces in the genre. Monteverdi was born in Cremona and began his musical studies at the cathedral there. His composi­tional career began at an early age, and he published his first pieces, a collection of three-voice motets, at the age of fifteen. By 1591, when he went to Mantua to serve as a musician for the Gonzaga court, he had already published books of "spiritual madrigals" (1583), canzonettas (1584), and his first two books of madrigals (1587 and 1590). In Mantua he continued writing madrigals, and in 1607 he produced his first work in the new genre of opera, a setting of Orfeo. The next year he produced his second opera, L'Arianna (now lost), to celebrate the wedding of Francesco Gonzaga and Margaret of Savoy. Along with these works, he published three more books of madrigals. He was dismissed from his position, along with a number of other musicians, in 1612.
In 1613 Monteverdi was appointed maestro di cappella at St. Mark's Cathe­dral in Venice. At that time, the musical quality of the cathedral had diminished, and much of his energy was taken up in rebuilding it. He still had time, however, to fill commissions for dramatic music from the new duke of Mantua and sacred music for various religious organizations in Venice. During this time he also published his last four books of madrigals. He remained in Venice for the rest of his life, writing music in all genres, including his final opera, L'incoronazione di Poppea (1642).
Monteverdi's role in the musical transition of his time is twofold. In his madrigals he wrote in a style that he called the seconda prattica, a description he used to separate himself from the more conservative tradition of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina* and his contemporaries. Here, the meaning of the text controlled nearly every aspect of the musical setting. This often led to violations of the accepted rules, a fact that caused the theorist Giovanni Maria Artusi to excoriate Monteverdi and other "moderns." Far from willfully repudiating the rules, however, Monteverdi used these new techniques to create an enormous depth of meaning in his pieces. In doing so, he was following the path of an earlier generation led by Cipriano de Rore.*
At the same time, composers were beginning to abandon complex polyphony to concentrate on a simpler texture of voice and chordal accompaniment. This style, called monody, was cultivated in Florence but soon became the primary means of musical expression, especially in opera. Monteverdi made effective use of this style, and in his operas and other dramatic works he was able to go beyond simple text expression and to explore the psychological aspects of the characters he portrayed. Variety in harmony and the immediate expression of the single voice became impressively flexible tools for composers, and Monte­verdi exploited them to their fullest potential in his operas. Monteverdi was neither a revolutionary nor a pioneer. His place in musical history rests on his ability to realize fully the possibilities of musical expression.
D. Arnold, Monteverdi, rev. ed., 1975.
P. Fabbri, Monteverdi, trans. T. Carter, 1994.
Russell E. Murray, Jr.

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Monteverdi, Claudio — ▪ Italian composer and musician Introduction baptized May 15, 1567, Cremona, Duchy of Milan died November 29, 1643, Venice  Italian composer of the late Renaissance, the most important developer of the then new genre, the opera. He also did much… …   Universalium

  • Monteverdi, Claudio — (1567–1643)    Composer.    Monteverdi was the organist of St Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. He was the foremost musician of his day and he has been described as the ‘father of modern music’. He composed both secular and sacred pieces. His Church… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Monteverdi, Claudio — (1567 1643)    Italian composer, best known as one of the developers of the opera in the modern sense of the term. Born and trained in Cremona, he spent the first part of his career (1591 1612) in the service of the duke of Mantua and the second… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • Monteverdi, Claudio — (15 May 1567, Cremona, Italy – 29 November 1643, Venice)    Composer whose madrigals and operas established the aesthetic integrity of the early Baroque style in the early 17th century, Monteverdi’s sacred music, consisting of some 145 Latin… …   Historical dictionary of sacred music

  • Monteverdi,Claudio — Mon·te·ver·di (mŏn tə vârʹdē, mōn tĕ ), Claudio. 1567 1643. Italian composer considered a founder of opera. His works include sacred music, many madrigals, and the opera Orfeo (1607). * * * …   Universalium

  • Monteverdi, Claudio — ► (1567 1643) Compositor italiano. Está considerado el verdadero creador de la ópera moderna: su Orfeo (1607) causó una impresión enorme que ratificaron sus numerosas obras posteriores (de las cuales, sin embargo, solo La coronación de Poppea… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Monteverdi, Claudio (Giovanni Antonio) — (baptized May 15, 1567, Cremona, Duchy of Milan died Nov. 29, 1643, Venice) Italian composer. The first of his nine books of madrigals appeared in 1587, the second in 1590. He visited the court of the Gonzagas in Mantua, and his next book (1592)… …   Universalium

  • Monteverdi, Claudio (Giovanni Antonio) — (bautizado el 15 may., 1567, Cremona, ducado de Milán–29 nov. 1643, Venecia). Compositor italiano. En 1587 apareció el primero de sus nueve libros de madrigales y, el segundo, en 1590. Visitó la corte de los Gonzagas en Mantua, y su libro… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Monteverdi, Claudio Giovanni Antonio —  (1567–1643) Italian composer …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Monteverdi — Monteverdi, Claudio …   Enciclopedia Universal

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.