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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
Lautten Compagney

Vespers 1610: Duo Seraphim; Sonata sopra Sancta Maria; Ave maris stella
The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, director

Tirsi e Clori
I Fagiolini
Robert Hollingworth, director

Cantate Domino; Laudate Dominum
Concerto Italiano
Rinaldo Alessandrini, director

Laudate Pueri
Concerto Italiano
Rinaldo Alessandrini, director.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Claudio Monteverdi

    O Bone Jesu, O Piissime Jesu

    Singer: Mieke van der Sluis. Singer: Axel Köhler. Ensemble: Lautten Compagney.
    • CAPRICCIO : 10470--.
    • CAPRICCIO.
    • 3.
  • Claudio Monteverdi

    Vespro Della Beata Vergine - Duo seraphim /Sonata sopra SM /Ave maria stella

    Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers.
    • CORO : COR-16126.
    • CORO.
    • 1.
  • Claudio Monteverdi

    Tirsi E Clori

    Choir: I Fagiolini. Director: Robert Hollingworth.
    • CHANDOS : CHAN 07-49.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 21.
  • Claudio Monteverdi

    Cantate Domino

    Ensemble: Concerto Italiano. Director: Rinaldo Alessandrini.
    • OPUS III : 30-150.
    • OPUS III.
    • 32.
  • Claudio Monteverdi

    Laudate Dominum

    Singer: Rossana Bertini. Ensemble: Concerto Italiano. Director: Rinaldo Alessandrini.
    • OPUS III : OPS-30-150.
    • OPUS III.
    • 29.
  • Claudio Monteverdi

    Laudate Pueri Dominum

    Ensemble: Concerto Italiano. Director: Rinaldo Alessandrini.
    • OPUS III : OPS-30-150.
    • OPUS III.
    • 12.

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