in 1847 aged 80, and Robson in 1876. Flight's son continues the business in St. Martin's Lane under the name of 'Flight and Son.'
[ W. H. H. ]
[ W. H. H. ]
FLORENCE (Firenze), although in point of great masters inferior to the other schools of music in Italy, can still claim her place among the earliest institutions for instruction in that science. Casella, the friend of Dante, was a native of Florence, and as early as 1310 there existed a philharmonic society there, which Burney, writing in 1789, speaks of as 'still in existence,' and which invented the Laudi Spirituali. Under the famous Lorenzo de' Medici, the streets of Florence resounded with the 'Canti Carnascialeschi,' the gay and frivolous songs of the Carnival, against which Savonarola protested, and the music of which was often sacrificed on the pile of 'Vanità.' To the history of Florentine music during that epoch may be added the name of Antonio Squarcialuppi, organist of the Duomo; but passing over the other masters of this first epoch of the Florentine school we come to the dawn of the opera music, which had a fitting birthplace in festive Florence. For the purpose of promoting this kind of music, a private musical academy called 'Degli Alterati' (the thirsters) was founded in 1568 at Florence by seven Florentine noblemen who assembled at the house of Giambattista Strozzi. They chose as their device a cask of grapes filled to over-flowing, and the motto 'Quid non designat ebrietas?' Giovanni Bardi Conte di Varnio belonged to this academy, and, after the death of Strozzi, his house became the rendezvous of the academicians. Bardi had for many years studied the theory and practice of music till he became a correct and good composer; and he was often solicited to prepare for the stage those mythological representations which under the name of 'Feste musicali' were among the earliest forms taken by the musical drama. These entertainments were first represented at Florence on a scale of magnificence in keeping with the gorgeous character of the Medici feasts.
Vincenzo Galilei—father of the great Galileo—was another member of the academy 'Degli Alterati.' He wrote a clever treatise, 'Dialogo della Musica antica e moderna' (Florence 1581), upon the abuse of modern music, in which he places in the mouth of Bardi an attack upon the madrigali and the researches after counterpoint. He was also a composer, and is supposed to be the first who composed melodies for a single voice. He set to music the speech of Ugolino (Inf. xxxiii.) beginning 'La bocca sollevò dal fero pasto'; also a portion of the Lamentations of Jeremiah.
Girolamo Mei was another member of this academy, and Emilio del Cavaliere, a composer of the Roman School who, previous to the composition of the first entire musical drama by Rinuccini, had divided into scenes and set to music two Pastorales—'La disperazione di Sileno' and 'Il Satiro'—the latter to words by Laura Guidiccini, a lady of Lucca.
When Bardi was summoned to Rome by Clementi VIII, the society of the 'Alterati' assembled in the house of Jacopo Corsi, a Florentine nobleman, an enlightened lover of the fine arts, and passionately devoted to dramatic music. They soon added to their number the names of Ottavio Rinnuccini the poet, Jacopo Peri, the composer, and Giulio Caccini, who, besides his talent for composition had the gift of a beautiful voice. These three occupied themselves in developing the first attempts at musical drama into the finished performance called the opera. They invented the recitative by which the Italian opera and the oratorio are distinguished from the opera of other countries and from other species of theatrical musical exhibition. 'Dafne' was the first result of their united efforts. Rinuccini composed the poetry, Caccini and Peri the music, and the whole was represented in the house of Jacopo Corsi, 1596. 'This,' says Burney (Hist. iv. p. 18), 'seems the true era whence the opera or drama wholly set to music, and in which the dialogue was neither sung in measure nor declaimed without music, but recited in simple musical tones which amounted not to singing, and yet was different from speech,—should be dated.' 'Dafne' was succeeded by 'Euridice,' represented with gorgeous splendour in 1600 at the feasts given in Florence in honour of the marriage of Henry IV of France with Maria de' Medici. None of the subsequent compositions of the great masters of operatic music produced anything like the effect of these first representations, which introduced Italy as it were to a new art—that of 'musica parlante.' The poet Angelo Grillo (the friend of Tasso), writing to Caccini, observed: 'You are the father of a new kind of music, or rather singing, which is not a song, but a recitative song of a nobler and higher order than the popular song; which does not sever or maim the words, nor deprive them of life, but gives new force and vigour to both. It is then a new and wonderful invention, or rather a revival of the ancient Greek musical drama which has been lost to us for so many centuries' (Tiraboschi, vii. 1321). Rinuccini's next opera, 'Arianna,' composed by Monteverde, was represented at the nuptials of Francesco Gonzaga of Mantua with the Infanta Margaret of Savoy (Doni, Opere, ii. 35).
This first academy for theatrical music was succeeded by many others, as the passion for musical representation became universal in Italy. Quadrio (i. 71) mentions three in Florence, 'degl' Infocati,' 'degl' Immobili,' 'de' Sorgenti,' founded between 1550 and 1560 especially for
- Published by Grazzini, Florence 1589