User Tools

Site Tools


Claudio Monteverdi


Monteverdi's father was a chemist who also worked as a physician, which may explain why he was such a modernist. The Italian maestro was born as an only child in Cremona in 1567. 1)

Marc'Antonio Ingegneri

Marc'Antonio Ingegneri, the maestro at his native cathedral, taught him from an early age. He had already written his first composition when he was 15 years old.2)


Monteverdi was constantly chastised by his contemporaries. However, he suffered the most from widely publicized criticisms by conservative music scholar Giovanni Maria Artusi. In many of his compositions, particularly the harmonies in the Fourth Book of Madrigals, Artusi chastised Monteverdi's unique harmonic vocabulary.3)

Fifth Book of Madrigals

To response to Artusi's critique, Monteverdi wrote in the preface to his new publication, the Fifth Book of Madrigals, that what he had publicly denounced was simply a new method of thinking, or seconda practica.4)

Changing Opera

Monteverdi was at the vanguard of transforming opera from a performance only for princes and the privileged to an art form that could be appreciated by the general population. Complex Renaissance music, with its multiple vocal lines, was the norm of the day during his time. Composers and performers, on the other hand, were eager to leave it aside for something fresh in which a singer would be supported by supportive chords and instruments.5)


Before the first public performance, Monteverdi and his fellow musicians would meet in aristocratic residences to plan how they would compose musical tragedies. As a result, Monteverdi laid the route for the evolution of opera. Soon later, he gave birth to Orfeo.6)

Lost Works

Monteverdi knew early on in the opera game that for opera to be effective as a new musical genre, it needed a sweeping melodic structure to complement the theatrical movement. This explains why Orfeo was such a smash hit. However, Monteverdi wrote at least 7 other operas that are rumored to be lost.7)

Remained Works

The only fragments of his compositions that have survived that may be used to produce complete performances are Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (1640) and L'Incoronazione di Poppea (1642), which was written just before he died.8)

Claudia Cattaneo

Monteverdi married his wife Claudia Cattaneo, a court singer, in 1599. The couple had three children, one of them died in infancy. After years of illness, his wife died just a few weeks after the premiere of Orfeo. After her death, Monteverdi went into a deep depression, but he recovered when he was commissioned to write an opera for Francesco Gonzaga's marriage to Margaret of Savoy.9)

St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice

Being chosen director of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice was a significant honor during his time. For years, the Basilica had been governed by inefficient maestros, and in 1613, authorities persuaded Monteverdi to take over the musical operations. Within a short period of time, Monteverdi had entirely altered the Basilica and reorganized the entire functioning. He employed well-trained new players and vocalists, refilled the library, and offered a platform for old world repertory and new musical compositions to meet. He held the position of director for the next 30 years.10)


Madrigals were popular during the Renaissance period, but unlike opera, which was written for a single voice, madrigals were part songs written to be sung by multiple voices. Monteverdi composed nine books of madrigals that consolidated the work of all the late Renaissance masters. It did, however, lay the way for the development of a new aesthetic in musical Baroque.11)

Church Music

Aside creating opera and madrigals, he is well-known for his sacred music collection. His paintings are recognized for their magnificent collection that was published in Venice between 1640 and 1641. The Vesper Psalms was a compilation of scores. In 1631, he also organized a thanksgiving mass.12)


Despite the musical diversions around him, Monteverdi was unable to emotionally heal from the death of his wife. He was ordained as a priest in 1632, and during that time he composed some of the best sacred music for the Roman Catholic Church.13)

Still Recognized And Respected

Monteverdi is still regarded as highly today as he was in the 17th century. Music ensembles all throughout the world play imaginatively dramatized versions of the entire Fourth Book of Madrigals (1603) to sold-out audiences on a regular basis. Orfeo, considered the first opera, has earned enormous reputation, and his mysterious and exquisite Vespers of 1610 are still taught in schools today.14)

claudio_monteverdi.txt · Last modified: 2022/02/02 00:24 by eziothekilla34