CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI 1567 -
Monteverdi: detail, portrait by the Italian painter Bernado Strezzi (1581-
John Dowland, and
xxxxxOne of the most accomplished lute players around at this time was the Irishman John Dowland (1562-
xxxxxDowland composed 90 works for solo lute, and he is also remembered for what many regard as his masterpiece, a collection of music entitled Lachrimae or Seven Teares Figured in Seven Passionate Pavans, composed in 1604 for lute, viols and violins. Such was the quality of his work that he gained an international reputation, both as a composer and as a performer on the lute.
xxxxxThe Irishman John Dowland (1562-
xxxxxThe Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi played a major part in the development of opera, being the first to realise the dramatic possibilities of this musical form of expression. His first opera, The Legend of Orpheus, produced in 1607, employed a larger orchestra to set the scene and portray mood and emotion, and this proved an instant success. He followed this up with L’Arlanna a year later, and this confirmed opera as a serious addition to dramatic art. Later works, notably The Return of Ulysses to His Country and The Coronation of Poppea, centred around real people in real-
xxxxxThe Italian Claudio Monteverdi was born in Cremona, the son of a barber-
xxxxxHis major contribution to music was the paramount part he played in the development of the opera, then in its infancy and little regarded. His first opera, The Legend of Orpheus (L’Orfeo) produced at Mantua in 1607 for the city's carnival, proved a milestone in the creation of musical drama. By employing a larger and more varied orchestra to "set the scene" and portray mood and emotion, he was the first to realise the dramatic possibilities of this musical form of expression. Following his highly successful production of L'ArIanna a year later, his reputation in this genre was established, and opera became recognised as a serious addition to dramatic performance, and a form of entertainment no longer confined to the privileged minority. Two operas produced towards the end of his life, The Return of Ulysses to His Country and The Coronation of Poppea, (the latter performed in Venice's first public opera house in 1642), set the seal on his accomplishment. Centred around the activities of real people in real-
xxxxxIn addition to operatic scores, he also wrote a large number of madrigals and motets, and produced compositions for ballet, plays, tournaments and state occasions, as well as for private functions and funerals. He began composing motets at the age of 15, and his first of eight books of madrigals was written in 1587. His sacred music is perhaps best remembered for his popular Vespers of 1610, but this was but one of his many fine vespers and masses. Worthy of particular note is his Great Mass of 1632, written to celebrate the end of the plague which had ravished Venice for two years. He died in Venice, the city he had served so well, and was buried in the Church of Frari, where there is a monument to his memory.
xxxxxAnother musician of this period was the Englishman Thomas Campion (1567-
xxxxxAnother English composer during this reign was Orlando Gibbons (1583-
xxxxxHe is famed above all for his forty or so sacred anthems -
xxxxxIncidentally, it was around this time (the early years of the 17th century) that an English Catholic named Francis Tregian the Younger (1574-
xxxxxAnother English composer at this time was Orlando Gibbons (1583-