Sunday, October 1st, 2023

Composers – Claudio Monteverdi


Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)

Cluadio Monteverdi Nationality – Italian

Born: May 15, 1567

Died: November 29, 1643

Major Works: Nine Books of Madrigals – (1587-1651); La favola d’Orfeo – (1607); Incoronazione di Poppea (1643); Vespro della beata vergine – (1610); Il ritorno d′Ulisse in patria – (1640)

Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi is considered to be the Father of modern music. Born in Cremona Italy as the son and oldest of five children of Baldassare, his father and a doctor and Maddalena (mother) he more than any other composer marked the transition from the Renaissance Period to the Baroque Period. His focus was Church Music, Madrigals and Operas. In 1599 he married and had three children, two of which survived youth, one became a musician and the other a doctor. He spent the majority of his life in Venice.

The Sacred Madrigal Books

Marking the changeover from music written in the Renaissance Period, and music written in the Baroque Period, the Madrigals offer an expansive change in vocal music which focuses on a single melodic line of music using different voices simultaneously performing the same melody. This is also known as Monophony which is quite different than Polyphony where multiple voices offer multiple melodies and/or harmonies.  Below is the list of Madrigal Books written by Monteverdi.

  • Book 1, 1587: Madrigali a cinque voci
  • Book 2, 1590: Il secondo libro de madrigali a cinque voci
  • Book 3, 1592: Il terzo libro de madrigali a cinque voci
  • Book 4, 1603: Il quarto libro de madrigali a cinque voci
  • Book 5, 1605: Il quinto libro de madrigali a cinque voci
  • Book 6, 1614: Il sesto libro de madrigali a cinque voci
  • Book 7, 1619: Concerto. Settimo libro di madrigali
  • Book 8, 1638: Madrigali guerrieri, et amorosi con alcuni opuscoli in genere rappresentativo, che saranno per brevi episodi fra i canti senza gesto.
  • Book 9, 1651: Madrigali e canzonette a due e tre voci

Monteverdi spent an enormous amount of time developing and writing his collection of these nine books on the sacred Madrigals. His first volume was written and published in 1587. He continued to develop and write the Madrigal volumes, publishing volume number eight in 1638. His last and ninth volume was published posthumously in 1651.


Another of his great contributions to music was his 18 Operas of which La favola d’Orfeo was his first opera and his most known. It is still performed today. This video is a performance of a portion of that Opera.

I would encourage my readers to follow the additional links to the various sections of this opera on Ars Varaeikon’s Channel on YouTube. Hopefully they will continue to keep the Opera available as this is a most interesting musical work, well worth the time you spend studying it.

Monteverdi was one of the first composers to utilize the techniques of Pizzicato and Tremolo for the strings. The composition Tancredi e Clorinda (1624) uses these techniques in the dramatic sections of the opera but also, in this particular work, Monteverdi also used the orchestra and the voices in such a way as to demonstrate two distinct entities as counterparts in opposition to each other while maintaining continuity within the work.

To learn more about Claudio Monteverdi please follow these links –

Wikipedia, Answers and Classical Music Pages

We hope that you have enjoyed this brief introductions to one of the world’s most influential composers – Claudio Monteverdi.

Note – For an Overview in music history of prominent composers please feel free to visit our posting titled – Composers – An Overview of Music History which features a breakdown of the various eras of music through time as well as a listing of important composers within each era.

Claudio Monteverdi


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