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Caravaggio and Music

1 hour
First broadcast:
Sunday 18 July 2010

Catherine Bott talks to the art critic, writer and broadcaster Andrew Graham-Dixon about the Italian painter Caravaggio, and some of the musical references found in his work. In terms of religion, Caravaggio was born in troubled times, and losing many members of his family to the plague when he was a child left him psychologically scarred. Caravaggio led a rather shadowy, some might say dissolute life, and spent the last years of his life on the run after killing a man in Rome. His paintings are considered by some to be the real beginnings of Baroque art, full of light and shade, and often quite macabre and gruesome in content. Andrew Graham Dixon, who has just written a new book about Caravaggio, puts some of the painter's most famous works into the context of his fascinating life, alongside a soundtrack of music from the time by Monteverdi, Gesualdo, Cavalieri and Caccini. He and Catherine Bott also look in detail at three of Caravaggio's "musical" paintings: "The Lute Player", "The Musicians" and the troublesome "Amor vincit omnia".

Music Played

8 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Image for Carlo Gesualdo

    Carlo Gesualdo O dolorosa gioia (Madrigals, Book V)

    Performers: Collegium Vocale Köln, Wolfgang Fromme (director)

    CBS MAESTRO, M2YK 46467

  • Image for Carlo Gesualdo

    Carlo Gesualdo O vos omnes

    Performers: The Monteverdi Choir, John Eliot Gardiner (conductor)

    DECCA 440 032-2

  • Image for Claudio Monteverdi

    Claudio Monteverdi Pulchra es (Vespers of the blessed Virgin: 1610)

    Performers: Catherine Bott & Tessa Bonner (sopranos), New London Consort, Philip Pickett (director)

    DECCA, 425 824-2

  • Image for Emilio de' Cavalieri

    Emilio de' Cavalieri Rappresentatione di anima et di corpo [Act III: "O Signor santo e vero"]

    Performers: Magnificat and The Whole Noyse, Warren Stewart & Susan Harvey (directors)

    KOCH, 3-7363-2

  • Image for Jacques Arcadelt

    Jacques Arcadelt Chi potra dir

    Performers: Robin Blaze (countertenor), Elizabeth Kenny (lute)


  • Image for Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

    Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina Missa Brevis [Credo]

    Performers: The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)


  • Image for Claudio Monteverdi

    Claudio Monteverdi Mentre vaga Angioletta [excerpt]

    Performers: Concerto Vocale, René Jacobs (director)

    HARMONIA MUNDI, HMC 901736-37

  • Image for Giulio Caccini

    Giulio Caccini Amor, io parto (Le nuove musiche)

    Performers: Montserrat Figueras (soprano) / Hopkinson Smith (lute)



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