The Baroque Era

17th to mid-18th century

(Classical Music Map)


I. History of Classical Music  (by John Stanley)
The great composers and their masterworks in MP3 format
Albeniz Borodin Donizetti Hindemith Prokofiev Schutz
Albinoni Brahms Dowland Janacek Puccini Scriabin
Allegri Britten Dvorak Kodaly Purcell Sibelius
Arne Bruckner Falla Leoncavallo Rachmaninov Smetana
Auber Busoni Field Liszt Rameau Strauss J.S.
Bach Byrd Gabrieli Lully Ravel Strauss R.
Barber Carissimi Gershwin Mahler Respighi Stravinsky
Bartok Charpentier Gesualdo Mendelssohn Rimsky-Korsakov Tallis
Beethoven Cherubini Glinka Meyerbeer Rossini Tchaikovsky
Bellini Chopin Gluck Monteverdi Saint-Saens Telemann
Bernstein Clementi Gounod Mozart Scarlatti Verdi
Berwald Corelli Grieg Mussorgsky Schoenberg Victoria
Berlioz Couperin Handel Pachelbel Shostakovich Villa-Lobos
Bizet Debussy Haydn Paganini Schubert Vivaldi
Boccherini Delibes Hildegard Palestrina Schumann Wagner
Orff  "Carmina Burana"
II. History of Jazz

Claudio Monteverdi



Monteverdi had a somewhat disrupted childhood. The son of a chemist who actually practised medicine (at that time an illegal act usually undertaken surreptitiously from small shops or stalls), he was born in Cremona, Italy, and had a brother and sister. Their mother, Maddalena, died when he was nine; their father's second wife when he was 16. The following year their father married a third time and finally became recognized by the Milanese authorities for his medical work. Despite these disruptions, Monteverdi received a good musical education under the cathedral's Maestro di Cappella. By the age of 15 he had already published a three-part motet, at 16 the first of his eight books of madrigals appeared, and the next year a book of his canzonettas.

At the age of 17 Monteverdi entered the service of the powerful Gonzaga family in Mantua as a string player. This rich and ornate court was then under the musical guidance of Flemish composer Giaches de Wert. Gradually Monteverdi grew in status, and eventually became part of the Duke of Mantua's travelling court on his military expeditions in Europe, particularly to Danube in 1595 and Flanders in 1599. De Wert died in 1596 and Monteverdi entertained hopes of taking his place as Maestro di Cappella, but this did not happen until 1601. Around this time, he married a court singer named Claudia, who bore him three children, two of whom survived.

In 1607 Monteverdi's opera La favola d'Orfeo (The Legend of Orpheus) was premiered at Mantua. Although Jacopo Peri had composed the first ever opera some years before, Monteverdi's was the first to use an array of instruments and to employ music as an integral feature or the work, rather than mere decoration. Unlike previous settings of the Orpheus legend, including one by Peri that Monteverdi would have studied, Monteverdi's work retained the original tragic ending — Orpheus losing Euridice when he looked behind him upon leaving the underworld. Also novel was Monteverdi's use of stringed instruments to represent the character of Orpheus, who is traditionally associated with the lyre.

Also in 1607 Monteverdi's wife died, a blow compounded by poverty, overwork, and illness. With an eye on a lucrative church appointment in Rome or Venice, Monteverdi attempted his first foray into sacred music with the famous Vespro della Beata Vergine, or Vespers, of 1610, a collection of movements notable for combining polyphonic vocal writing typical of the late Renaissance with newer Baroque techniques. These emphasized one melodic line combined with a well-defined bass, and increased the use of instruments.

Monteverdi's long-cherished ambition to leave the service of the Duke of Mantua was finally realized in 1612 when the Duke died. The following year Monteverdi was appointed Maestro di Cappella of St Mark's in Venice. There he gradually built up the standards of the choir, commissioned some important new-repertoire from leading composers, and himself composed a stream of sacred works for which he became renowned throughout Europe.

As Monteverdi grew older, his pace of work slowed, although he wrote the music for a Mass of Thanksgiving in 1631, celebrating the end of the plague that had ravaged Venice the previous year. In 1632 he was admitted to holy orders, and would probably have drifted from public attention had it not been for the opening in Venice of the first public opera house in 1637. This renewed his interest in opera, and towards the end of his life he composed Il ritomo d'Ulisse (The Return of Ulysses) and L'iucoroiia~ioiie di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea). These operas further developed the techniques used in La favola d'Orfeo, and featured characters that were recognizably human, rather than symbolic.

Monteverdi made one final visit to Cremona in 1643, and died in November of the same year, having just returned to Venice. He was buried in Venice in the vast Gothic basilica, the Frari, in a tomb at the very centre of the church, near that of the great Venetian artist Titian, whose masterpiece, the Assumption, towers above the high altar.

Monteverdi lived and worked in a period of change, as the late Renaissance was giving way to the Baroque. Although he eschewed revolutionary means, he encouraged this transition, and used his genius to develop and transform every aspect of music he came into contact with. The eight books of madrigals published in his lifetime, in which he introduced instrumental accompaniments and exploited to the full the dramatic possibilities of the medium, taken together with the I 'espers and his ground-breaking operas, confirm Monteverdi's crucial position in the history of music.

"The end of all good

 music is to affect the soul."

Claudio Monteverdi

Claudio Monteverdi




Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)



Vespro della Beata Vergine (Vespers)
Deus in adjutorium
Dixit Dominus
Laudate pueri
Nisi Dominus
Sonata Sopra Sancta Maria

La favola d'Orfeo

Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi
Altri canti d'Amor

Selva Morale e Spirituale
O Ciechi Ciechi!
E' Questa Vita Un Lampo
Dixit Dominus

  L'incoronazione di Poppea
  Zefiro torna
  Beatus vir


The Music Lesson






















Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

| privacy