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Monteverdi and the End of the Renaissance

Monteverdi and the End of the Renaissance

Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 292
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  • Book Info
    Monteverdi and the End of the Renaissance
    Book Description:

    Combining a close study of Monteverdi's secular works with recent research on late Renaissance history, Gary Tomlinson places the composer's creative career in its broad cultural context and illuminates the state of Italian music, poetry, and ideology in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-91010-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction

    • 1 Oppositions in Late-Renaissance Thought: Three Case Studies
      (pp. 3-30)

      Italian culture of the late sixteenth century offers a picture of stark philosophical contrasts and intellectual eclecticism. The unprecedented explosion of information during the previous century, set off in particular by an astonishingly active printing industry and new technological and geographical discoveries, presented literate Italians with a bewildering variety of thoughts on almost any subject and fostered ideological conflicts of increasing severity and clarity. Not surprisingly, then, historians have often conceived of this culture as a confrontation of conflicting intellectual, spiritual, and social forces: classical versus Christian tradition, secular versus sacred realm, Aristotelianism versus Platonism, totalitarianism versus republicanism, feudalism versus...

  5. The Perfection of Musical Rhetoric

    • 2 Youthful Imitatio and the First Discovery of Tasso (Books I and II)
      (pp. 33-57)

      Monteverdi the musical orator did not immediately find his voice. His first two books of madrigals, published while he was still at Cremona, his birthplace and youthful home, preserve the record of his early steps on the way to this discovery—hesitant steps, along paths well trodden before him, that only infrequently point ahead to the musico-rhetorical triumphs of his mature works. Nevertheless these youthful efforts provide us with a lexicon of techniques and gestures that Monteverdi would develop, sometimes almost beyond recognition, in later compositions. And, not less important, they confess more frankly than the mature works their indebtedness...

    • 3 Wert, Tasso, and the Heroic Style (Book III)
      (pp. 58-72)

      Monteverdi’s appreciation of Tasso, hesitant and secondhand in Book II, matured notably by 1592, when he published hisTerzo libro de madrigali. The work that fascinated him now was the epic poemGerusalemme liberata. So much so that he put aside almost completely the “madrigalismo descrittivo” of many texts of Book II: there are no lyric poems by either Tasso or Casone here. The amorous trifling of 1590 gave way to amorous passion in 1592.

      The Third Book was Monteverdi’s first publication since leaving Cremona and the environs of his youth and entering the service of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga of...

    • 4 Guarini and the Epigrammatic Style (Books III and IV)
      (pp. 73-113)

      Tasso may have inspired the freshest idiom in Book III, but Guarini pointed the way to Monteverdi’s future. The paradox here is more apparent than real. Monteverdi’s settings of two cycles fromGerusalemme liberatacontained much that the composer would develop in later works but were rooted in a repudiation of the canzonetta-madrigal of Books I and II—a repudiation required, as I have suggested, by the heroic style of Tasso’s verse. Only with less exalted rhymes could Monteverdi pursue the implications of the most advanced canzonetta-madrigals of the Second Book. And with a decisiveness that is entirely typical he...

    • 5 Guarini, Rinuccini, and the Ideal of Musical Speech
      (pp. 114-148)

      In 1598 Vincenzo Gonzaga finally brought to pass the performance ofIl pastor fidothat he had cherished since 1584 and pursued actively since 1591. The play was staged three times in Mantua that year, in late June and early September and, most sumptuously, on 22 November during the visit of Margherita of Austria, on her way to wed Philip III of Spain. In all three performances, and also in those abandoned in various states of preparation in 1591—92 and 1593, music played a significant role. To limn a background for the predominant style of Monteverdi’s Fifth Book we...

  6. The Emergence of New Ideals

    • 6 Marino and the Musical Eclogue (Book VI)
      (pp. 151-164)

      In July 1612, shortly after the death of Vincenzo I Gonzaga, Monteverdi was summarily released from his position at the court of Mantua. He returned to the environs of his youth—first to his father’s house at Cremona and then to nearby Milan, where he seems to have spent part of the next year directing concerts in aristocratic salons. But this was probably not steady work and surely not a position of esteem for a composer of Monteverdi’s fame at the height of his career. So he must have rejoiced in August 1613 to receive an invitation to audition for...

    • 7 Marinism and the Madrigal, I (Book VII)
      (pp. 165-196)

      In 1614 Marino had announced the themes of the third part ofLa lirawith these Anacreontic lines. Five years later, set to music in the guise of an operatic prologue complete with instrumentalsinfonieand ritornelli, they signaled the novel poetic themes and musical styles of Monteverdi’sConcerto. Settimo libro de madrigali a 1. 2. 3. 4. et sei voci, con altri generi de canti.

      At first thought, love may hardly seem a noteworthy new subject in Monteverdi’s music. But in fact most of the amorous “carmi” of Book VII treat it in a way that sets this collection...

    • 8 Marinism and the Madrigal, II (Developments after Book VII)
      (pp. 197-214)

      After the fourteen through-composed duets of the Seventh Book, we noted in the preceding chapter, Monteverdi published only seven more works of this type. He included one in an anthology of 1624 (“O come vaghi, o come cari sono”),¹ two more in theScherzi musicaliof 1632 (“Zefiro torna” and “Armato il cor d’adamantina fede”), and four in the Eighth Book of 1638 (“Se vittorie sì belle,” “Mentre vaga Angioletta,” “Ardo e scoprir, ahi lasso, io non ardisco,” and “O sia tranquillo il mar, o pien d’orgoglio”).² In sheer numbers, then, Monteverdi’s interest in the genre seems to have waned...

    • 9 The Meeting of Petrarchan and Marinist Ideals (The Last Operas)
      (pp. 215-240)

      In the madrigals,arie, and canzonette of 1614–38 Monteverdi evolved new modes of musical expression and structure to accommodate the new poetics of Marinism. He created, in effect, a Third Practice, largely independent from the rhetorically inspired, Petrarchan Second Practice of the period 1592–1610. But at the same time he never relinquished the Petrarchan goals of those earlier years, and thus he was torn by the lure of two contrasting expressive ideals throughout his last decades. We have seen that he juxtaposed these ideals, more or less uneasily, in the late books of madrigals and even in individual...

  7. The End of the Renaissance

    • 10 Monteverdi and Italian Culture, 1550–1700
      (pp. 243-260)

      The story of Monteverdi’s career told in the preceding chapters is mainly one of shifting poetic styles, genres, and expressive aims and of the changing musical means the composer employed to reflect them. But the story remains incomplete. For the changes in Monteverdi’s compositional goals, and the differing poetic styles that helped to stimulate them, mirror basic ideological shifts in Italy at the end of the Renaissance. Their full significance must be sought in their relation to these broader cultural tendencies. To do this we must first turn away from Monteverdi himself to a synoptic view of Italian culture around...

  8. Works Cited
    (pp. 261-270)
  9. Index of Monteverdi’s Works and Their Texts
    (pp. 271-276)
  10. General Index
    (pp. 277-280)