Donald Macleod on how Monteverdi, frustrated by his Mantua employers' ingratitude, turned increasingly towards the Church as a source of lucrative employment and commissions.
To mark 450 years since the composer's birth, Donald Macleod traces Claudio Monteverdi's remarkable rise from relatively humble origins in Cremona (he was the son of a barber-surgeon) to his subsequent career as instrumentalist and composer at the court of Vincenzo Gonzaga at Mantua, and his later promotion to the role of Director of Music at the Basilica of St Mark's in Venice.
Today's episode finds Monteverdi increasingly frustrated by his Mantua employers' ingratitude, and turning increasingly towards the Church as a source of lucrative employment and commissions. He composes his celebrated Vespers of 1610 as a showcase of his abilities in the realm of sacred music. Begging to be released from service at Mantua, his wish is soon granted following the death of Vincenzo Gonzaga. Fortunately for the jobless and near penniless widower, he is soon snapped up by the officials running the Basilica of St Mark's in Venice, where they offer him favourable terms and conditions to become their next Director of Music. A deeply devout man, he is now indeed under holy orders. Although that doesn't preclude him from an interest in secular music, nor in alchemy.
O bone Iesu, SV 313
Mieke van der Sluis, soprano
Axel Köhler, countertenor
Vespers 1610: Duo Seraphim; Sonata sopra Sancta Maria; Ave maris stella
Harry Christophers, director
Tirsi e Clori
Robert Hollingworth, director
Cantate Domino; Laudate Dominum
Rinaldo Alessandrini, director
Rinaldo Alessandrini, director.