Giulio Romolo Caccini (also Giulio Romano) (8 October 1551 – buried 10 December 1618) was an Italian composer, teacher, singer, instrumentalist and writer of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. He was one of the founders of the genre of opera, and one of the most influential creators of the new Baroque style. He was also the father of the composer Francesca Caccini and the singer Settimia Caccini.
Little is known about his early life, but he was born in Italy, the son of the carpenter Michelangelo Caccini; he was the older brother of the Florentine sculptor Giovanni Caccini. In Rome he studied the lute, the viol and the harp, and began to acquire a reputation as a singer. In the 1560s, Francesco de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, was so impressed with his talent that he took the young Caccini to Florence for further study.
By 1579, Caccini was singing at the Medici court. He was a tenor, and he was able to accompany himself on the viol or the archlute; he sang at various entertainments, including weddings and affairs of state, and took part in the sumptuous intermedi of the time, the elaborate musical, dramatic, visual spectacles which were one of the precursors of opera. Also during this time he took part in the movement of humanists, writers, musicians and scholars of the ancient world who formed the Florentine Camerata, the group which gathered at the home of Count Giovanni de' Bardi, and which was dedicated to recovering the supposed lost glory of ancient Greek dramatic music. With Caccini's abilities as a singer, instrumentalist, and composer added to the mix of intellects and talents, the Camerata developed the concept of monody —an emotionally affective solo vocal line, accompanied by relatively simple chordal harmony on one or more instruments—which was a revolutionary departure from the polyphonic practice of the late Renaissance.
In the last two decades of the 16th century, Caccini continued his activities as a singer, teacher and composer. His influence as a teacher has perhaps been underestimated, since he trained dozens of musicians to sing in the new style, including the castrato Giovanni Gualberto Magli, who sang in the first production of Monteverdi's first opera Orfeo .
Caccini made at least one further trip to Rome, in 1592, as the secretary to Count Bardi. According to his own writings, his music and singing met with an enthusiastic response. However, Rome, the home of Palestrina and the Roman School, was musically conservative, and music following Caccini's stylistic lead was relatively rare there until after 1600.
Caccini's character seems to have been less than perfectly honorable, as he was frequently motivated by envy and jealousy, not only in his professional life but for personal advancement with the Medici. On one occasion, he informed the Grand Duke Francesco of two lovers in the Medici household—Eleonora, the wife of Pietro de' Medici, who was having an illicit affair with Bernardino Antinori —and his informing led directly to Eleonora's murder by Pietro. His rivalry with both Emilio de' Cavalieri and Jacopo Peri seems to have been intense: he may have been the one who arranged for Cavalieri to be removed from his post as director of festivities for the wedding of Henry IV of France and Maria de' Medici in 1600 (an event which caused Cavalieri to leave Florence in fury), and he also seems to have rushed his own opera Euridice into print before Peri's opera on the same subject could be published, while simultaneously ordering his group of singers to have nothing to do with Peri's production.
After 1605, Caccini was less influential, though he continued to take part in composition and performance of sacred polychoral music. He died in Florence, and is buried in the church of St. Annunziata.
The stile recitativo, as the newly created style of monody was called, proved to be popular not only in Florence, but elsewhere in Italy. Florence and Venice were the two most progressive musical centers in Europe at the end of the 16th century, and the combination of musical innovations from each place resulted in the development of what came to be known as the Baroque style. Caccini's achievement was to create a type of direct musical expression, as easily understood as speech, which later developed into the operatic recitative, and which influenced numerous other stylistic and textural elements in Baroque music.
Caccini's most influential work was a collection of monodies and songs for solo voice and basso continuo, published in 1602, called Le nuove musiche . Although it is often considered the first published collection of monodies, it was actually preceded by the first collection by Domenico Melli published in Venice in March 1602 ( stile veneto , in which the new year began on 1 March). In fact, the collection was Caccini's attempt, evidently successful, to situate himself as the inventor and codifier of monody and basso continuo. Although the collection was not published until July 1602,[ citation needed ] Caccini's dedication of the collection to Signor Lorenzo Salviati is dated February 1601, in the stile fiorentino, when the new year began on 25 March. This likely explains why the collection is often dated to 1601.[ citation needed ] Moreover, he explicitly positions himself as the inventor of the style when describing it in the introduction. He writes:
Having thus seen, as I say, that such music and musicians offered no pleasure beyond that which pleasant sounds could give – solely to the sense of hearing, since they could not move the mind without the words being understood – it occurred to me to introduce a kind of music in which one could almost speak in tones, employing in it (as I have said elsewhere) a certain noble negligence of song, sometimes passing through several dissonances while still maintaining the bass note (save when I wished to do it the ordinary way and play the inner parts on the instrument to express some effect – these being of little other value).
The introduction to this volume is probably the most clearly written description of the performance of monody, what Caccini called affetto cantando (passionate singing), from the time (a detailed discussion of the affetto cantando performance style can be found in Toft, With Passionate Voice, pp. 227–40). Caccini's preface includes musical examples of ornaments—for example how a specific passage can be ornamented in several different ways, according to the precise emotion that the singer wishes to convey; it also includes effusive praise for the style and amusing disdain for the work of more conservative composers of the period.
The introduction is also important in the history of music theory, as it contains the first attempt to describe the figured bass of the basso continuo style of the Seconda pratica. Caccini writes:
Note that I have been accustomed, in all places that have come from my pen, to indicate with numbers over the bass part the thirds and the sixths – major when there is a sharp, minor when a flat – and likewise when sevenths or other dissonances are to be made in the inner voices as an accompaniment. It remains only to say that ties in the bass part are used thusly by me: after the [initial] chord, one should play again only the notes [of the harmony] indicated [and not the bass note again], this being (if I am not mistaken) most fitting to the proper usage of the archlute (and easiest way to manage and play it), granted that this instrument is more suitable for accompanying the voice, especially the tenor voice, than any other.
This passage is often overlooked, because it is brief, and located at the very end of the introduction. It is even indicated by Caccini as a "note"; an aside or addendum to the main purpose. It is important to observe, however, that the first explanation of this practice is in the context of an essay about vocal expression and intelligibility. Indeed, it was largely the aim of textual intelligibility that led to the development of this musical style, and to the music of the common practice period.
Caccini wrote music for three operas — Euridice (1600), Il rapimento di Cefalo (1600, excerpts published in the first Nuove musiche), and Euridice (1602), though the first two were collaborations with others (mainly Peri for the first Euridice ). In addition he wrote the music for one intermedio (Io che dal ciel cader farei la luna) (1589). No music for multiple voices survives, even though the records from Florence indicate he was involved with polychoral music around 1610.
He was predominantly a composer of monody and solo song accompanied by a chordal instrument (he himself played harp), and it is in this capacity that he acquired his immense fame. He published two collections of songs and solo madrigals, both titled Le nuove musiche , in 1602 (new style) and 1614 (the latter as Nuove musiche e nuova maniera di scriverle). Most of the madrigals are through-composed and contain little repetition; some of the songs, however, are strophic. Among the most famous and widely disseminated of these is the madrigal Amarilli, mia bella.
Jacopo Peri, known under the pseudonym Il Zazzerino, I was an Italian composer and singer of the transitional period between the Renaissance and Baroque styles, and is often called the inventor of opera. He wrote the first work to be called an opera today, Dafne, and also the first opera to have survived to the present day, Euridice (1600).
Cristofano Malvezzi was an Italian organist and composer of the late Renaissance. He was one of the most famous composers in the city of Florence during a time of transition to the Baroque style.
A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six. It is quite distinct from the Italian Trecento madrigal of the late 13th and 14th centuries, with which it shares only the name.
The year 1600 in music involved some significant events.
In poetry, the term monody has become specialized to refer to a poem in which one person laments another's death.
The Florentine Camerata, also known as the Camerata de' Bardi, were a group of humanists, musicians, poets and intellectuals in late Renaissance Florence who gathered under the patronage of Count Giovanni de' Bardi to discuss and guide trends in the arts, especially music and drama. They met at the house of Giovanni de' Bardi, and their gatherings had the reputation of having all the most famous men of Florence as frequent guests. After first meeting in 1573, the activity of the Camerata reached its height between 1577 and 1582. While propounding a revival of the Greek dramatic style, the Camerata's musical experiments led to the development of the stile recitativo. In this way it facilitated the composition of dramatic music and the development of opera.
Emilio de' Cavalieri, or Emilio dei Cavalieri—the spellings "del" and "Cavaliere" are contemporary typographical errors—(c. 1550 – 11 March 1602) was an Italian composer, producer, organist, diplomat, choreographer and dancer at the end of the Renaissance era. His work, along with that of other composers active in Rome, Florence and Venice, was critical in defining the beginning of the musical Baroque era. A member of the Roman School of composers, he was an influential early composer of monody, and wrote what is usually considered to be the first oratorio.
Francesca Caccini was an Italian composer, singer, lutenist, poet, and music teacher of the early Baroque era. She was also known by the nickname "La Cecchina", given to her by the Florentines and probably a diminutive of "Francesca". She was the daughter of Giulio Caccini. Her only surviving stage work, La liberazione di Ruggiero, is widely considered the oldest opera by a woman composer.
Marco da Gagliano was an Italian composer of the early Baroque era. He was important in the early history of opera and the development of the solo and concerted madrigal.
Euridice is an opera by Jacopo Peri, with additional music by Giulio Caccini. It is the earliest surviving opera, Peri's earlier Dafne being lost. The libretto by Ottavio Rinuccini is based on books X and XI of Ovid's Metamorphoses which recount the story of the legendary musician Orpheus and his wife Euridice.
Settimia Caccini was a well-known Italian singer and composer during the 1600s, being one of the first women to have a successful career in music. Caccini was highly regarded for her artistic and technical work with music. She came from a family of well-known composers and singers, with her father being Giulio Caccini and her sister Francesca Caccini. Settimia Caccini was less well-known as a composer because she never published her own collection of works. Instead, nine works are attributed to her in two manuscripts of secular songs. Settimia was known much more for her talent as a singer, and she performed for nobility with the Caccini family consort and as a soloist. Coming from a musical family, she was able to lead herself to her own fame and success.
Seconda pratica, Italian for "second practice", is the counterpart to prima pratica and is sometimes referred to as Stile moderno. The term "Seconda pratica" first appeared in 1603 in Giovanni Artusi's book Seconda Parte dell'Artusi, overo Delle imperfettioni della moderna musica, where it is attributed to a certain L'Ottuso Accademico. In the first part of The Artusi (1600), Artusi had severely criticized several unpublished madrigals of Claudio Monteverdi. In the second part of this work, L'Ottuso Accademico, whose identity is unknown, defends Monteverdi and others "who have embraced this new second practice". Monteverdi adopted the term to distance some of his music from that of e.g. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Gioseffo Zarlino and to describe early music of the Baroque period which encouraged more freedom from the rigorous limitations of dissonances and counterpoint characteristic of the prima pratica.
The year 1614 in music involved some significant musical events.
Vittoria Archilei was an Italian singer, dancer, and lutenist. She was born Vittoria Concarini, but in 1582 married Antonio Archilei, a composer and lutenist. She was in the service of Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, along with Emilio de' Cavalieri, who was her mentor. In 1588 she went with her husband and Cavalieri to the Medici court in Florence, where she became "one of the most famous singers of her time" (Grove). She is recorded as singing at many court entertainments and weddings up until 1620, and was in the service of the Medici her whole career. Many composers wrote for her, including Sebastian Raval and Luca Marenzio, as well as, of course, her husband and Cavalieri.
Le nuove musiche is a collection of monodies and songs for solo voice and basso continuo by the composer Giulio Caccini, published in Florence in July 1602. It is one of the earliest and most significant examples of music written in the early baroque style of the seconda pratica. It contains 12 madrigals and 10 arias.
In the years centering on 1600 in Europe, several distinct shifts emerged in ways of thinking about the purposes, writing and performance of music. Partly these changes were revolutionary, deliberately instigated by a group of intellectuals in Florence known as the Florentine Camerata, and partly they were evolutionary, in that precursors of the new Baroque style can be found far back in the Renaissance, and the changes merely built on extant forms and practices. The transitions emanated from the cultural centers of northern Italy, then spread to Rome, France, Germany, and Spain, and lastly reached England. In terms of instrumental music, shifts in four discrete areas can be observed: idiomatic writing, texture, instrument use, and orchestration.
Euridice is an opera in a prologue and one act by the Italian composer Giulio Caccini. The libretto, by Ottavio Rinuccini, had already been set by Caccini's rival Jacopo Peri in 1600. Caccini's version of Euridice was first performed at the Pitti Palace, Florence on 5 December 1602. Caccini hurriedly prepared the score for the press and published it six weeks before Peri's version appeared.
Il rapimento di Cefalo was one of the first Italian operas. Most of the music was written by Giulio Caccini but Stefano Venturi del Nibbio, Luca Bati and Piero Strozzi also contributed. The libretto, by Gabriello Chiabrera, is in a prologue, five scenes and an epilogue and is based on the Classical myth of Cephalus and Aurora.
Stefano Venturi del Nibbio was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance, active in Venice and Florence. In addition to composing madrigals in a relatively conservative style, works which were published as far away as England, he collaborated with Giulio Caccini on one of the earliest operas, Il rapimento di Cefalo (1600).
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