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Claudio Monteverdi

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Aliases: Claudio Monteverde


Baptised: 15 May 1567

Died: 29 November 1643


Monteverdi's compositional career spans sixty years from the end of the Renaissance to the early Baroque: like Beethoven two centuries later he was the major transitional figure between two distinct musical eras.

He was the first composer to realise the potential of opera for expressing powerful emotions, and he brought to his church music the musical innovations of his madrigal and instrumental style that he continued to refine throughout his lifetime.

Claudio (Giovanni Antonio) Monteverdi was born in Cremona in 1567, and baptised – probably at an age of several days – on the 15th of May. Monteverdi’s father Baldassare was a chemist and also practiced medicine; his mother Maddalena (née Zignani) died young, and Baldassare married twice more. Claudio had one elder sister, a younger brother Giulio Cesare who also pursued a musical career, and three more half-siblings from his father’s second marriage. Both Claudio and Giulio Cesare received a good musical education from Marc’Antonio Ingegneri, who was maestro di cappella of Cremona Cathedral, and whom Monteverdi would acknowledge as his teacher on the title page of his first book of madrigals. Claudio was clearly a precociously gifted boy, at the age of 15 sending a collection of three-part motets to be published in Venice by the printing house of Gardane, and following these with two further publications before he reached the age of 18, the latter of which, the volume of three-part canzonets, was published by Ricciardo Amadino, whose printing firm would go on to publish much of Monteverdi’s subsequent work.

By the time Monteverdi was ready to publish his second book of five-part madrigals, he had evidently outstripped his teacher and was looking for a musical posting outside Cremona; he visited Milan to obtain patronage, and within three years he was in full-time employment as a violinist or gamba player at the court of the Gonzaga family in Mantua. The third book of madrigals that was published soon after show the influence of the Mantuan maestro di cappella, Giaches de Wert, but Monteverdi's fame quickly spread and he became one of the leading court musicians. After the death of de Wert in 1596 he was succeeded by a more senior musician, Pallavicino, but upon his death in 1601 came Monteverdi's opportunity as musical director of the Mantuan court. In the meantime, Monteverdi had married one of the court singers, Claudia de Cattaneis, on 20 May 1599, who would bear him three children; Francesco (1601–?1677/78), Leonora (1603), and Massimiliano (1604–61).

In 1600 Monteverdi was the subject of an attack by the musical theorist Artusi, who criticised certain of Monteverdi’s harmonic practices and his modern style of word-painting, concerning works which were yet to appear in print but must have been circulating in manuscript. In 1603 and 1605 Monteverdi published the fourth and fifth books of madrigals, including much of the secular music he had worked on in the previous decade at Mantua that had attracted the ire of Artusi. The fifth book includes a brief reply to the criticism, which was amplified two years later by Monteverdi’s younger brother Giulio Cesare in the introduction to the Scherzi musicali of 1607; this only served to further popularise Monteverdi’s music and enhance his fame.

Monteverdi’s final years at Mantua were dominated by the composition of a series of dramatic works and unhappiness in his personal life, while the star of his fame ascended ever further. His first opera, L'Orfeo received its successful premiere at the beginning of 1607 during Carnival, and was followed by commissions for a second opera, L'Arianna, and several other smaller dramatic works including the balletto Il ballo delle ingrate. In the middle of the year Monteverdi returned to Cremona with his wife, who having been seriously ill for some time, was to be cared for by Monteverdi’s apothecary father. Claudia died on September 10; after little more than a fortnight he was recalled to Mantua. The inherent amount of overwork during the next year precipitated a nervous collapse; Claudio for a time again returned to his father’s house in Cremona to recuperate, before an angry exchange of letters resulted in a pay rise from the Gonzagas, more or less obliging him to return to court duties. However, Monteverdi’s desire to remain any longer in Mantua was effectively at an end.

The subsequent publication of the Vespro della beata Vergine in 1610 has been sometimes interpreted by music historians as being nothing less than an elaborate curriculum vitae, or job application for a church posting elsewhere: it was the first sizeable collection of church music published since the motets of his youth. The volume includes a learned six-part parody mass based on a motet of Nicolas Gombert, written in the Renaissance polyphonic style which he described as the prima prattica, or first practice, which strongly leans to the Roman school of church music dominated in the previous century by Palestrina; in August he travelled to Rome to obtain permission to dedicate the volume to Pope Paul V. On the other hand, the Vespers music inventively fuses traditional plainsong psalmody with the new technical innovations from Monteverdi’s dramatic music, described as the seconda prattica (second practice), interspersed with more intimate motets “designed for princely chapels or apartments”, thus lending itself to the elaborate instrumental and choral resources of Venice under the long line of maestri di cappella culminating in Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli; following the latter’s death in 1611, Monteverdi was invited to perform for the procurators of the Basilica of San Marco. Monteverdi succeeded, and in 1613 moved to Venice, where he would remain as maestro di cappella for the rest of his life.

View the Wikipedia article on Claudio Monteverdi.

Monteverdi's works are sorted below by genre: there are also lists of Monteverdi's works

Dramatic works

  • L'Orfeo, SV 318, opera (favola in musica) (prologue, 5 acts), produced Feb. 1607, pub. 1609,
  • L'Arianna, SV 291, opera, 1608 – lost, aside from lament:
  • Lamento d'Arianna, SV 22, 1v, bc, pub. 1623
  1. Lasciatemi morire
  1. Lasciatemi morire
  2. O Teseo, Teseo mio
  3. Dove, dove è la fede
  4. Ahi, che non pur risponde
  5. Misera ancor do loco [1623 version only]
  • Le nozze di Tetide, favola marittima, 1616 – work begun and abandoned, lost
  • Andromeda, opera, 1618–20 – lost
  • Apollo, dramatic cantata – lost
  • Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, SV 153, dramatic scena, 3vv, 2vl, va, vc, cb, bc, 1624, pub. 1638   (2 editions available)
  • La finta pazza Licori, 1627 – lost
  • Gli amori di Diana e di Endimione, 1628 – lost
  • Mercurio e Marte, torneo, 1628 – lost
  • Proserpina rapita, SV 323, opera, 1630 – lost, aside from trio:
  • Volgendo il ciel per l'immortal sentiero, SV 154, ballet, ca 1636, pub. 1638   (2 editions available)
  • Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, SV 325, opera, 1640
  • Le nozze d’Enea con Lavinia, opera, 1641 – lost
  • La vittoria d’Amore, ballet, 1641 – lost
  • L’incoronazione di Poppea, SV 308, opera, 1642

Secular works

Score listing includes number of voices, instruments, and publication date (if known).

Il primo libro de madrigali (First book of madrigals, Venice, 1587)

  1. Ch'io ami la mia vita, SV23, 5vv
  2. Se per havervi oimè, SV24, 5vv
  3. A che tormi il ben mio s’io dico di morire, SV 25, 5vv
  4. Amor per tua mercè, SV26, 5vv
  5. Baci soavi e cari, SV27, 5vv
  6. Se pur non mi consenti, SV28, 5vv
  7. Filli cara e amata, SV29, 5vv
  8. Poi che del mio dolore, SV30, 5vv
  9. Fumia la pastorella, SV31, 5vv
  10. Almo divino raggio, SV31, 5vv
  11. All'hora i pastor tutti, SV31, 5vv
  12. Se nel partir da voi, vita mia, SV32, 5vv
  13. Tra mille fiamme, SV33, 5vv
  14. Usciam, ninfe, homai fuor di questi boschi; SV34, 5vv
  15. Questa ordi il laccio, SV35, 5vv
  16. La vaga pastorella sen va tra fiori, SV36, 5vv
  17. Amor, s’il tuo ferire, SV37, 5vv
  18. Donna, s’io miro voi, giaccio divengo, SV38, 5vv
  19. Ardo, sì, ma non t'amo, SV39, 5vv
  20. Ardi o gela a tua voglia, SV39, 5vv
  21. Arsi e alsi a mia voglia, SV39, 5vv

Il secondo libro de madrigali (Second book of madrigals, Venice, 1590)

  1. Non si levava ancor - E dicea l'una sospirando 5vv
  2. Bevea fillide mia, 5vv
  3. Dolcissimi legami, 5vv
  4. Non giacinti o narcisi, 5vv
  5. Intorno a due vermiglie, 5vv
  6. Non sono in queste rive, 5vv
  7. Tutte le bocche belle, 5vv
  8. Donna nel mio ritorno, 5vv
  9. Quell'ombra esser vorrei, 5vv
  10. S'andasse Amor a caccia, 5vv
  11. Mentre io miravo fiso, 5vv
  12. Ecco mormorar l'onde, 5vv
  13. Dolcemente dormiva, 5vv
  14. Se tu mi lassi, 5vv
  15. La bocca onde, 5vv
  16. Crudel, perchè mi fuggi?, 5vv
  17. Questo specchio ti dono, 5vv
  18. Non mi è grave il morire, 5vv
  19. Ti spontò l'ali amor la donna mia, 5vv
  20. Cantai un tempo, 5vv

Il terzo libro de madrigali (Third book of madrigals, Venice, 1592)

  1. La giovinetta pianta, SV60, 5vv
  2. O come è gran martire, SV61, 5vv
  3. Sovra tenere herbette, SV62, 5vv
  4. O dolce anima mia, SV63, 5vv
  5. Stracciami pur il core, SV64, 5vv
  6. O rossignuol ch'in queste verdi fronde, SV65, 5vv
  7. Se per estremo ardore, SV66, 5vv
  8. Vattene pur, crudel, con quella pace, SV67, 5vv
  9. Là tra’l sangu’e le morti egro giacente, SV67, 5vv
  10. Poi ch'ella in sè tornò deserto e muto, SV67, 5vv
  11. O primavera, gioventù de l'anno, SV68, 5vv
  12. Perfidissimo volto ben l'usata bellezza, SV69, 5vv
  13. Ch'io non t'ami, cor mio, SV70, 5vv
  14. Occhi, un tempo mia vita, SV71, 5vv
  15. Vivrò fra i miei tormenti e le mie cure, SV72, 5vv
  16. Ma dove, O lasso me, dove restaro ?, SV72, 5vv
  17. Io pur verrò là dove sete, SV72, 5vv
  18. Lumi miei, cari lumi, SV73, 5vv
  19. Rimanti in pace a la dolente e bella Fillida, SV74
  20. Ond'ei di morte la sua faccia impressa, SV74, 5vv

Il quarto libro de madrigali (Fourth book of madrigals, Venice, 1603)

  1. Ah! dolente partita, ah fin de la mia vita, SV 75, 5vv, 1603
  2. Cor mio, mentre vi miro
  3. Cor mio, non mori? E mori!
  4. Sfogava con le stelle, 5vv, 1603
  5. Volgea l'anima mia
  6. Anima mia, perdona
  7. Che se tu se'il cor mio, 5vv, 1603
  8. Luci serene e chiare
  9. La piaga c'ho nel core
  10. Voi pur da me partite
  11. A un giro sol
  12. Ohimè, se tanto amate, 5vv, 1603
  13. Io mi son giovinetta, 5vv, 1603
  14. Quel augellin che canta, 5vv, 1603
  15. Non più guerra, pietate
  16. Sì ch'io vorrei morire, 5vv, 1603
  17. Anima dolorosa che vivendo, SV 90, 5vv, 1603
  18. Anima del cor mio poi che da me misera me, SV 91, 5vv, 1603
  19. Longe da te, cor mio
  20. Piagn' e sospira

Il quinto libro de madrigali (Fifth book of madrigals, Venice, 1605)

  1. Cruda Amarilli, 5vv, 1605
  2. O Mirtillo, 5vv, 1605
  3. Era l'anima mia già presso a l'ultim' hore, 5vv, 1605
  4. Ecco, Silvio, colei ch'in odio hai tanto, 5vv, 1605
  5. Ma se con la pietà, 5vv, 1605
  6. Dorinda, ah dirò mia, se mia non sei, 5vv, 1605
  7. Ecco, piegando le ginocchie a terra, 5vv, 1605
  8. Ferir quel petto, Silvio, 5vv, 1605
  9. Ch'io t'ami, e t'ami più de la mia vita
  10. Deh bella e cara, 5vv, 1605
  11. Ma tu piu che mai dura, 5vv, 1605
  12. Che dar più vi poss'io?
  13. M'e più dolce il penar
  14. Ahi come a un vago sol cortese giro, SV 101, 5vv, 1605
  15. Troppo ben può questo tiranno amore, 5vv, 1605
  16. Amor, se giusto sei
  17. T'amo mia vita, 5vv, 1605
  18. E cosi à poco à poco
  19. Questi vaghi concenti

Il sesto libro de madrigali (Sixth book of madrigals, Venice, 1614)

  1. Lasciatemi morire, 5vv, 1614 also see above: Lamento d’Arianna, under Dramatic works
  2. O Teseo, Teseo mio, 5vv, 1614
  3. Dove, dove è la fede, 5vv, 1614
  4. Ahi, che non pur risponde, 5vv, 1614
  5. Zefiro torna e il bel tempo rimena, 5vv, 1614
  6. Una Donna fra l'altre honesta e bella vidi, 5vv, bc, 1614
  7. A Dio, Florida Bella, 5vv
  8. Incenerite spoglie, avara tomba, 5vv, 1614
  9. Ditelo, o fiumi e voi ch'udiste, 5vv, 1614
  10. Darà la notte il sol, 5vv, 1614
  11. Ma te raccoglie, o ninfa, 5vv, 1614
  12. O chiome d'or, neve gentil del seno, 5vv, 1614
  13. Dunque amate reliquie, 5vv, 1614
  14. Ohimè il bel viso, 5vv, bc, 1614
  15. Qui rise, O Tirsi, 5vv, bc, 1614
  16. Misero Alceo, 5vv, bc, 1614
  17. Batto, qui pianse Ergasto, 5vv, bc, 1614
  18. Presso un fiume tranquillo, 7vv, bc, 1614

Il settimo libro di madrigali (Seventh book of madrigals, Venice, 1619)

  1. Tempro la cetra, 1v, str, 1619
  2. A quest'olmo, a quest’ ombre et a quest’ onde, SV 119, 6vv, 2vl, 2rec, bc, 1619
  3. Non è di gentil core 2vv, bc, 1619
  4. O come sei gentile 2vv, bc, 1619
  5. Io son pur vezzosetta 2vv, bc, 1619
  6. O viva fiamma 2vv, bc, 1619
  7. Vorrei baciarti 2vv, bc, 1619
  8. Dice la mia bellissima Licori 2vv, bc, 1619
  9. Ah che non si conviene romper la fede, SV 125, 2vv, bc, 1619
  10. Non vedrò mai le stelle, 2vv, bc, 1619
  11. Ecco vicine o bella Tigre
  12. Perchè fuggi?
  13. Tornate
  14. Soave libertate
  15. S'el vostro cor madonna
  16. Interrotte speranze
  17. Augellin che la voce al canto spieghi, SV 133, 3vv, bc, 1619
  18. Vaga su spina ascosa
  19. Eccomi pronta ai baci, 3vv, 1619
  20. Parlo miser o taccio   (2 editions available)
  21. Tu Dormi? Ah crudo core, 4vv, 1619
  22. Al lume delle stelle Tirsi sotto un alloro, SV 138, 4vv, bc, 1619
  23. Con che soavità, 1v, str, lutes, hpd, 1619
  24. Ohimè dove il mio ben
  25. Se i languidi miei sguardi
  26. Se pur destina   (2 editions available)
  27. Chiome d'oro, 2vv, 2vl, chit/hpd, 1619
  28. Amor che deggio far se non mi giova amar, SV 144, 4vv, 2vl, bc, 1619
  29. Tirsi e Clorisee above, Dramatic works

Ottavo libro di madrigali (Eighth book of madrigals, Venice, 1638)

  1. Altri canti d'Amor, tenero arciero, SV 146, 6vv, 2vl, 4vla, 1638
  2. Hor che'l ciel e la terra, 6vv, 2vl, 1638
  3. Gira il nemico insidioso Amore, 3vv, 1638
  4. Se vittorie sì belle, 2vv, bc, 1638
  5. Armato il cor d'adamantina fede, SV 150, 2vv, bc, 1638
  6. Ogni amante è guerrier, 2–3vv, bc, 1638
  7. Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, SV 153see above, Dramatic works
  8. Ardo, avvampo, mi struggo, ardo: accorrete, SV 152, 8vv, 2vl, 1638
  9. Volgendo il ciel per l'immortal sentiero, SV 154see above, Dramatic works
  10. Movete al mio bel suon
  11. Altri canti di Marte e di sua schiera, SV 155, 6vv, 2vl, 1638
  12. Vago augelletto che cantando vai, 6–7vv, 2vl, cb, bc, 1638
  13. Mentre vaga angioletta, 2vv, bc, 1638
  14. Ardo e scoprir, ahi lasso, io non ardisco, SV 158, 2vv, bc, 1638
  15. Dolcissimo uscignolo, 5vv, 1638
  16. Chi vol haver felice e lieto il core, 5vv, 1638
  17. O sia tranquillo il mare o pien d'orgoglio, 2vv, bc, 1638
  18. Lamento della Ninfa, 1–4vv, bc, 1638
  19. Ninfa che, scalza il piede e sciolto il crine, 1–3vv, bc, 1638
  20. Perchè t'en fuggi, o Fillide?, 3vv, bc, 1638
  21. Non partir, ritrosetta, 3vv, bc, 1638
  22. Su, su, su pastorelli vezzosi, 3vv, bc, 1638
  23. Ballo delle Ingrate, SV 167see above, Dramatic works

Madrigali e canzonette libro nono (Madrigals and song nineth book, Venice, 1651)

  1. Bel pastor dal cui bel guardo
  2. Zefiro torna e di soavi accenti, 2vv, bc, 1651
  3. Se vittorie sì belle, 2vv, bc, 1638
  4. Armato il cor d'adamantina fede, SV 150, 2vv, bc, 1638
  5. Ardo e scoprir, ahi lasso, io non ardisco, SV 158, 2vv, bc, 1638
  6. O sia tranquillo il mare o pien d'orgoglio, 2vv, bc, 1638
  7. Alcun non mi consigli, SV 169
  8. Di far sempre gioire amor speranza dà
  9. Quando dentro al tuo seno
  10. Non voglio amare per non penare
  11. Come dolce oggi
  12. Alle danze, alle gioie
  13. Perché se m'odiavi
  14. Si si ch'io v'amo, occhi vaghi, occhi belli
  15. Su, su, su, pastorelli vezzosi (1651)
  16. O mio bene, o mia vita

Other madrigals

Sacred works

Score listing includes number of voices, instruments, and publication date (if known).

Main publications


Other dramatic works published in Scherzi musicali (1607), Madrigali guerreri et amorosi (1638), and Madrigali e canzonette (1651) below.
Secular vocal

Sacred vocal

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External links