Claudio Monteverdi

Often regarded as revolutionary, Claudio Monteverdi is known for marking the transition from the Renaissance style of music to that of the Baroque period. He developed two individual styles of composition — the heritage of Renaissance polyphony and the new basso continuo technique of the Baroque

Claudio Monteverdi was born in Cremona, Italy, on the May 15, 1567. As a youth his musical talent was already evident: his first publication was issued by a prominent Venetian publishing house when he was 15, and by the time he was 20 a variety of his works had gone to print. His first book of five-voice madrigals, while bearing a dedication to his Cremonese mentor Ingegnieri, succeeded in establishing his reputation outside of his provincial hometown, and helped him find work in the court of the Duke Gonzaga of Mantua.

In 1607, Monteverdi's first opera L'Orfeo, was performed in Mantua. Disagreements with the Gonzaga court led him to seek work elsewhere, and finally in 1612 he was appointed maestro di cappella at St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice.

His earliest years at Venice were a rebuilding period for the cappella, and it was some time before Monteverdi was free to accept commissions outside his duties at the cathedral. In 1616 he composed the ballet Tirsi i Clori for Ferdinand of Mantua, the more-favored brother of his deceased and disliked ex-employer.

The 1630s were lean musical years for Monteverdi. Political battles and an outbreak of the plague left him without commissions from either Mantua or Venice. However, with the opening of Venetian opera houses in 1637, Monteverdi's operatic career was revived.