"The modern composer builds upon the foundation of truth. "
For many years Claudio Monteverdi was in charge of music at St. Mark's Basilica, in Venice. This splendid building, filled with golden mosaics and other art treasures, still radiates a sense of timeless wonder. Monteverdi's music, written mostly for voices, resonates with this quality. The composer's reputation as a great innovator sprang from his tireless exploration of musical forms and ideas. Yet, even while studying the technicalities of composition, Monteverdi produced works that are passionate, profound, spiritual, and dramatic.
Monteverdi was a contemporary of William Shakespeare. He was born in 1567, towards the end of the Renaissance period, and lived on into the Baroque period. He wrote a large volume of church choral music and many operas - some of which have been tragically lost.
Monteverdi was in the vanguard of a great flowering of art and music. He was the first composer to emphasise the importance of words in vocal music, and incorporated in his operas a single vocal line, which greatly enhanced the scope for drama. His contributions enriched and enlivened choral music, and also laid the foundation for modern orchestral music.
Monteverdi wrote many madrigals (songs, usually for several voices), and turned opera from the preserve of a scholarly few into a spectacular popular entertainment. Monteverdi's ability to adapt to a range of styles in his quest to express emotion through music has led many people to regard him as the first truly great composer.
Monteverdi died on 29 November, 1643 in Venice.
contributed by Gifford, Katya