Renaissance Composers

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)

Monteverdi was born in northern Italy and served under the Duke of Mantua as a string player and composer. Like most musicians of the time he wrote both sacred and secular music, including nine books of madrigals. He is also known for writing operas, and composed for some of the very first public opera houses that were opened in Venice. Monteverdi was influenced by a new movement in composition which was creating closer links between music and the text it was written for. His experimentation to try and achieve this in his madrigals became quite influential, although he was criticised at the time for his use of dissonance.

Thomas Morley (1557-1602)

Morely was an English composer who grew up in Norwich and later became a chorister and organist at St Paul’s cathedral. He is believed to have studied with William Byrd. Morley was a contemporary of Shakespeare and set some of his verses to music, although a personal connection between the two has not been established. I listened to an album of his music as part of my research for my Level 1 Composition module – my notes can be found here. He is known for bringing the Italian madrigal to popularity in England, and wrote many lighthearted songs in this style as well as religious motets and psalms.


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