|Claudio Monteverdi (1567 - 1643)
A brief history of the greatest Italian composer of the early baroque period
Contributor: James Sanderson
Monteverdi was born in 1567 and wrote a large volume of church choral music,
madrigals, songs and many operas - some of which have been tragically lost. The composer's reputation as a great innovator sprang from his tireless exploration of musical forms and ideas. Yet, even while studying the technicalities of composition, Monteverdi produced works that are passionate, profound, spiritual, and dramatic.
Monteverdi was in the vanguard of a great flowering of art and music. He was the first composer to emphasise the importance of words in vocal music, and incorporated in his operas a single vocal line, which greatly enhanced the scope for drama. His contributions enriched and enlivened choral music, and also laid the foundation for modern orchestral music.
Monteverdi wrote many madrigals (songs, usually for several voices), and turned opera from the preserve of a scholarly few into a spectacular popular entertainment.
His ability to adapt to a range of styles in his quest to express emotion through music has led many people to regard him as the first truly great composer.
Monteverdi died on November 29, 1643 in Venice where he had been based for many
years, principally as maestro of the music at St. Mark's Basilica.