Music in History

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Florentine Camerata

Renaissance_16th c

16th century-music in Italy

Camerata Florentine (1577-1582)

During the end of 16th century, Camerata Florentina  was a group consisted of humanists, musicians, poets and scholars.  They met the house of Giovanni de Bardi and they  talked about the trends in arts, especially music and drama.  Camerata flourished especially during 1577-1582. Perhaps famous people in Florence of that time were invited to those meetings. Giulio Caccini, Pietro Strozzi, and Vincenzo Galilei (father of the astronomer Galileo Galilei)  also were members of Camerata.
People of Camerata had a common belief that not only  music  but also their contemporary society had been corrupted. They believed that they had to look back to the ancient Greek culture, ethics and style of music in order to improve on one hand their contemporary music / art and  on the other hand their society.   Though they did not originate many of their conclusions about music, the Camerata  solidified the ideas gleaned from outside thinkers like Girolamo Mei, a prominent scholar of ancient Greece at the time. The composers of Camerata  Florentine tried to recreate the style of the ancient Greeks, although it had already been lost for centuries. The type developed by this  experimentations was called  monody.
Monody  was a work for solo voice with a simple melodic line and instrumental accompaniment.  There were two types: a  declamatory and a more melodic. Recitative was developed from  the first type and aria was developed from the  second one.  
Monody works, composed by Jacopo Peri ( 1561-1633) and others, contributed to an extended dramatic expression. Peri worked in Florence. During 1590s he composed his "Daphne",  in collaboration with poet Ottavio Rinuccini . This was the first opera; the music has been lost.
However the second Peri's opera titled "Eurydice" has been saved. Intermezzo  had been included in that new form, that is opera. Composers of the Florentine camerata (Caccini-Peri) used  already existing instruments like lute, harpsichord, church organ, "di gamba" instruments and basso continuo for  orchestrating their  works.
Soon enough  Camerata Florentine's   musical ideas were adopted by  many composers and, during  first decade of the 17th century, opera was widespread.

                                        Vincenzo Galilei -- Saltarello

It is a composition  very common in opera, oratorio and cantata. It is a kind of melodic narration accompanied by  a small orchestral ensemble. It is a structural part of an opera and it promotes the plot as a monologue or dialogue


During the Italian Renaissance, intermezzo was a theatrical performance / spectacle with music and (often) dance. It was performed between the acts of a play on the celebration of various circumstances, for example a marriage in an Italian court. It is considered one of the great forerunners of the opera. Intermezzi were composed and performed from  15th to 16th century. They flourished during 16th century. In the 17th century  intermezzo merged with the opera nevertheless  it was still performed  between acts.


                      Peri: L'Euridice, Prologo "La Tragedia" e Coro "Se de' boschi"

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