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Orpheus in the Marketplace

Orpheus in the Marketplace

Tim Carter
Richard A. Goldthwaite
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  • Book Info
    Orpheus in the Marketplace
    Book Description:

    The Florentine musician Jacopo Peri (1561-1633) is known as the composer of the first operas--they include the earliest to survive complete,Euridice(1600), in which Peri sang the role of Orpheus. The recent discovery of a large number of private account books belonging to him and his family allows for a greater exploration of Peri's professional and personal life. Richard Goldthwaite, an economic historian, and Tim Carter, a musicologist, have done more, however, than write a biography: their investigation exposes the value of such financial documents as a primary source for an entire period. This record of Peri's wide-ranging investments and activities in the marketplace enables the first detailed account of the Florentine economy in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and opens a new perspective on one of Europe's principal centers of capitalism. His economic circumstances reflect continuities and transformations in Florentine society, and the strategies for negotiating them, under the Medici grand dukes. They also allow a reevaluation of Peri the singer and composer that elucidates the cultural life of a major artistic center even in changing times, providing a quite different view of what it meant to be a musician in late Renaissance Italy.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72657-4
    Subjects: History, Music, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. A Note on Money
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. A Note on Transcriptions
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-23)

    Jacopo Peri (1561–1633) may need no introduction to musicians: he is well known, by name at least, as the composer of the first opera to survive complete,Euridice(1600), and for his contributions to the new repertory of songs for solo voice and instrumental accompaniment that emerged in Florence around the same time. But others might wonder why an otherwise obscure Florentine in a no less obscure period of the city’s history merits the attention we lavish on him here. The answer is straightforward: he left behind not just his music and a reputation as an innovative composer, but...

  8. 1 The Social World
    (pp. 24-121)

    With his appointment in 1573 as a singer at the Servite church of SS. Annunziata, Jacopo Peri, then just twelve years old, takes his first documented step out of a nebulous past that is almost impossible to penetrate. We do not know for sure even where he was born. A near contemporary, Stefano Rosselli, reported that Peri told him he was born in Rome of an ancient and noble Florentine family; in fact, his birth is not recorded in the usual Florentine source for this kind of information—the baptismal records in S. Giovanni Battista—nor in the obvious Roman...

  9. 2 The Economic World
    (pp. 122-204)

    Growing up in Florence, Peri became fully acclimated to the market economy of one of Europe’s great centers of early capitalism. Florentines knew how to make their way in a marketplace organized around the monetary nexus. Moreover, the economy had developed to the point of offering some, if limited, outlets for saving and investment even for those who had only modest amounts of disposable wealth, and more important, it had opened up plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurial initiatives, especially for skilled artisans. We know much about these issues for the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, although they lie subsumed under business...

  10. 3 The Musical World
    (pp. 205-310)

    The return of the Medici to Florence as dukes of Tuscany, then (from 1569) grand dukes, clearly changed the city’s political landscape, and also its urban one, and had an impact on its social structure, but the Medici played their hand carefully as they consolidated their position through the second quarter of the sixteenth century. Then the victory over Siena in 1555 in effect put an end to the ambitions of pro-republican Florentines in exile, and benefited the economy by assuring the stability of the new state, reducing the pressure for direct taxation and opening up space for any number...

  11. 4 Last Years, Death, and the End of the Line
    (pp. 311-346)

    Peri must have faced his final years with considerable equanimity. Music was not going to figure much in them, given that he was too old to perform, and probably even more disinclined to compose (see the list of works in Appendix C). He also ran up against typical rivalries among the court musicians, resulting in the disputes overLa regina Sant’Orsolain 1624–25 and what appears to have been a feud between Francesca Caccini and the poet Andrea Salvadori that led to the dropping of the opera proposed for the forthcoming wedding of Margherita de’ Medici and Odoardo Farnese,...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 347-374)

    An early seventeenth-century Venetian treatise on accountancy makes a comparison as extravagant in its way as the aim of this book:

    Who can deny that double-entry bookkeeping is akin to music? To that music, I say, of which consist the heavens, the spheres, the elements: all things created and the creator himself, God? Because just as in music, to limit the argument to the art as regards song, so many varied things and diverse voices, such as the alto, the bass, the soprano, the upper, the lower, the middle, the tenor and whatever have between them so well ordered a...

  13. APPENDIX A Chronology
    (pp. 375-386)
  14. APPENDIX B Letters from Jacopo Peri
    (pp. 387-426)
  15. APPENDIX C Catalogue of Peri’s Musical Works
    (pp. 427-436)
  16. APPENDIX D Four Poems concerning Jacopo Peri
    (pp. 437-442)
  17. Works Cited
    (pp. 443-452)
  18. Index
    (pp. 453-480)