Composer Weekly: Monteverdi

Composer weekly is a Spotify playlist that is updated each week with a new composer. This weeks composer is Claudio Monteverdi.

Monteverdi stands between Renaissance and Baroque. You see that especially in his fifth book of madrigals. He was involved in a famous dispute with Giovanni Artusi regarding the new type of music, seconda practica, where Monteverdi defended and described it in the foreword to the fifth book. The prima practica is the old polyphonic style of the Renaissance and seconda practica is the new style with a more clear hierarchy of the voices and the beginning of continuo as found in Baroque music.

He worked for many years at the court of Vincenzo I of Gonzaga as a vocalist, viol player and musical director. Because of that he primarily wrote secular madrigals until he turned 40.

Later in his life Monteverdi developed the seconda practica into larger works and was one of the first to compose what we today call operas. He wrote quite a few but only three have survived, L’Orfeo, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and L’incoronazione di Poppea.

Monteverdi didn’t write many sacred works but one of them is very famous, Vespro della Beata Vergine.

BBC have made a really good documentary about Monteverdi and that piece.

The playlist is a made in chronological order, from Madrigals in the first book to scenes from the last opera, L’incoronazione di Poppea.

Enjoy! (click here to open the playlist in spotify).