1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Monteverde, Claudio

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MONTEVERDE, CLAUDIO (1567–1643), Italian priest and musician, was born at Cremona in May 1567; he was engaged at an early age as violist to the duke of Mantua, and studied composition under Ingegneri, the duke's maestro di Capella. His bold experiments, while bringing upon him the attacks of Artusi and Banchieri (q.v.), led to discoveries which exercised a lasting influence upon the progress of musical art. He was the first to make deliberate use of unprepared dissonances, or what are now known as fundamental discords. These discords constituted a revolution against the laws of 16th century music. He employed them first in his madrigals, where they are a sign of decadence, but afterwards introduced them into music of another kind with such excellent effect that their value was universally recognized. Before 1595 Monteverde was married to the singer Claudia Cattaneo, who died in 1607. In 1602 he succeeded Ingegneri as maestro di capella; and in 1607 he produced, for the marriage of Francesco Gonzaga, his first opera, Ariana, in which he employed the newly-discovered discords with irresistible effect. Though he did not invent the lyric drama—Peri's Euridice having been produced at Florence in 1600—he raised it to a level which distanced all contemporary competition. His second opera, Orfeo, composed in 1608, was even more successful than Ariana. In 1613 Monteverde was invited to Venice, as maestro di Capella at St Mark's, with a stipend of 300 ducats, which in 1616 was raised to 400. Here he composed much sacred music, the greater part of which is lost. In 1630 he wrote another grand opera, Proserpina rapita. He did not become a priest until 1632. In 1639 he produced L'Adone, and in 1641 Le Nozze di Enea and Il Ritorno d'Ulisse. He died in Venice on the 29th of November 1643. Monteverde's harmonic innovations and power of musical rhetoric seemed to put an end to the school of Palestrina, and led the way to modern music. (See Music.)