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Baroque Era

‘Gunpowder plot’ to blow up English Houses of Parlia ment is discovered: conspirator Guy Fawkes is arrested in vaults of Houses of Parliament • Tsar Boris Godunov (Russ) dies; ‘Time of Troubles’ continues •  Shakespeare (Eng): Macbeth • Miguel de Cervantes (Sp): first half of Don Quixote   
Joachim Wtewael  -  The Golden Age
In England, Guy Fawkes and other ‘Gunpowder Plot ters’ are executed • Basil Shuisky (Russ) assassinates ‘False Dmitri’ and becomes tsar in his place • Dutch fleet routs Portuguese-Spanish fleet in East Indies • Shakespeare (Eng): King Lear • Ben Jonson (Eng): Volpone  • Joseph Scaliger (Fr): Thesaurus Temporum, a chronology of ancient times

Jamestown Colony (Va), first permanent English settlement on the American mainland, is founded • English parliament rejects King’s proposal for a united Scotland and England • Explorer Henry Hudson (Eng) attempts to find the Northeast Passage, but is confounded by thick ice • Shakespeare (Eng): Timon of Athens
Religious dissension in Germany leads to the forma­ tion of Protestant Union by German states, led by Elector Frederick IV of the Palatinate • Emperor Rudolf II, weak and mentally III, loses control of the Holy Roman Empire • Spectacle maker Hans Lippershey (Neth) builds one of the earliest telescopes • Thomas Middleton (Eng): A Mad World, My Masters and A Trick to Catch the Old One published

Catholic League is formed in Germany, headed by Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria • Sigismund III of Poland makes war on Russia to claim the Russian throne • Johann Kepler (Ger) publishes Astronomia Nova, stating that planets move in elliptical orbits around Sun • Galileo Galilei (It) makes an improved telescope • Shakespeare (Eng): Coriolanus

Gustave Doré -  Miguel de Cervantes "Don Quixote " (1605)



William Byrd, aged about 65, publishes his first volume of Gradualia for Catholic worship. After the Gunpowder Plot of this year, strict measures against Catholicism result in the work being withdrawn. 

William Byrd - Gradualia - AVE VERUM CORPUS

6 January
Ben Jonsons The Masque of Blackness is presented for King James, with stage design by Inigo Jones and music by English court composer Alfonso Ferrabosco. Queen Anne, who has commissioned the masque, performs in a leading role. The production is the first of many masque collaborations between Jonson and Jones.

Benjamin "Ben" Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – 6 August 1637) was an English playwright, poet, actor, and literary critic of the 17th century, whose artistry exerted a lasting impact upon English poetry and stage comedy. 

Orlando Gibbons becomes organist of the Chapel Royal. 

Incorporating six pieces scored with basso continuo,
Monteverdi's Fifth Book of Madrigals is published in Venice. In its preface Monteverdi defends his expressive modernist style in response to criticisms published by the composer-theorist Giovanni Artusi.
The collection includes Cruda Amarilli, one of the madrigals Artusi had singled out for its compositional degeneracy. 

Monteverdi: Madrigais, Book 5
01. Cruda Amarilli
02. O Mirtillo
03. Era l'anima mia
04. Ecco, Silvio, colei - Part I
05. Ma, se con la pieta - Part II
06. Dorinda, ah, diro mia - Part III
07. Ecco, piegando le genocchie - Part IV
08. Ferir quel petto, Sillvio - Part V
09. Ch'io t'ami - Part I
10. Deh, bella e cara - Part II
11. Ma tu, piu che mai dura - Part III
12. Che dar piu vi poss'io
13. M'e piu dolce il penar
14. Ah, come a un vago sol
15. Troppo ben puo
16. Amor, se giusto sei
17. T'amo, mia vita
18. E cosi, a poco a poco
19. Questi vaghi concenti

Monteverdi. Cruda Amarilli. 

Michel de La Guerre, French organist and composer, born. 

19 February
Orazio Vecchi, innovative madrigalist and maestro di capella to the Duke of Moderna, dies aged 54.

4 April
Michael Praetorius courageously defends his patron, Duke Heinrich Julius, against an ambush in Brunswick. Years later he is rewarded with a plot of land and a gift of 2,000 thaler.

18 April
Composer Giacomo Carissimi is baptised in Marino, near Rome. 

19 April
Orazio Benevoli
, Franco-Italian composer, born.

Antonio Bertali, Italian composer and violinist, born.

17 September
Francesco Sacrati, Italian composer, born.

Giacomo Carissimi

Giacomo Carissimi (baptized 18 April 1605 – 12 January 1674) was an Italian composer and music teacher. He is one of the most celebrated masters of the early Baroque or, more accurately, the Roman School of music. Carissimi established the characteristic features of the Latin oratorio and was a prolific composer of motets and cantatas. He was highly influential in musical developments in north European countries through his pupils and the wide dissemination of his music.


Carissimi's exact birthdate is not known, but it was probably in 1604 or 1605 in Marino near Rome, Italy. Of his early life almost nothing is known. Giacomo’s parents, Amico (1548–1633, a cooper by trade) and Livia (1565–1622), were married on 14 May 1595 and had four daughters and two sons; Giacomo was the youngest.

Nothing is known of his early musical training. His first known appointments were at Tivoli Cathedral, under the maestri di cappella Aurelio Briganti Colonna, Alessandro Capece and Francesco Manelli; from October 1623 he sang in the choir, and from October 1624 to October 1627 he was the organist. In 1628 Carissimi moved north to Assisi, as maestro di cappella (chapel master) at the Cathedral of San Rufino. In 1628 he obtained the same position at the church of Sant'Apollinare belonging to the Collegium Germanicum in Rome, which he held until his death. This was despite him receiving several offers to work in very prominent establishments, including an offer to take over from Claudio Monteverdi at San Marco di Venezia in Venice. In 1637 he was ordained a priest. He seems to have never left Italy at all during his entire lifetime. He died in 1674 in Rome.


The great achievements generally ascribed to Carissimi are the further development of the recitative, introduced by Monteverdi, which is highly important to the history of dramatic music; the further development of the chamber cantata, by which Carissimi superseded the concertato madrigals which had themselves replaced the madrigals of the late Renaissance; and the development of the oratorio, of which he was the first significant composer.


Charles Burney and John Hawkins both published specimens of his compositions in their works on the history of music, while Henry Aldrich collected an almost complete set of his compositions, which are currently housed at the library of Christ Church, Oxford. The British Museum also possesses numerous works by Carissimi. Most of his oratorios are in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris.

Carissimi was active at the time when secular music was about to usurp the dominance of sacred music in Italy. The change was decisive and permanent. When Carissimi began composing, the influence of the previous generations of Roman composers was still heavy (for instance, the style of Palestrina) and when his career came to a close the operatic forms, as well as the instrumental secular forms, were predominant. In addition, Carissimi was important as a teacher, and his influence spread far into Germany and France. Much of the musical style of Marc-Antoine Charpentier, for instance, was influenced by Carissimi.

Giacomo Carissimi - Ten Motets

Giacomo Carissimi - Baltazar oratorio

Giacomo Carissimi - 'Jonas' (Historia Jonae)

Giacomo Carissimi - Vanitas Vanitatum


Francesco Sacrati

Francesco Sacrati (17 September 1605 in Parma, Italy – 20 May 1650 in Modena, Italy) was an Italian composer of the Baroque era, who played an important role in the early history of opera. He wrote for the Teatro Novissimo in Venice as well as touring his operas throughout Italy. His most famous piece is La finta pazza ("The Feigned Madwoman", 1641), said to be the first opera ever performed in France (in 1645). The manuscript of this work was long thought to be lost but a touring edition of the manuscript was discovered by musicologist Lorenzo Bianconi in 1984. Some of the music bears striking similarities to the score of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, prompting scholars to speculate that Sacrati had a part in composing the surviving version of that opera.


Orazio Benevoli

Orazio Benevolo or Benevoli (19 April 1605 – 17 June 1672), was a Franco-Italian composer of large scaled polychoral sacred choral works (e.g., one work featured forty-eight vocal and instrumental lines).

He was born in Rome, to a French baker and confectioner, Robert Venouot, which name was Italianized to Benevolo. Benevolo was a choirboy at San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome (1617–23). Later, he assumed posts as maestro di cappella at Santa Maria in Trastevere (from 1624); then, at Santo Spirito in Sassia (from 1630); and, eventually, at his old church, San Luigi dei Francesi (from 1638). Benevolo served as Kapellmeister in the court of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria from 1644 to 1646. In 1646, Benevoli returned to Rome, where he was choirmaster at Santa Maria Maggiore and at the Cappella Giulia of St. Peter's Basilica. He was made Guardiano of the Vatican's Congregazione di Santa Cecilia in the years: 1654, 1665 and 1667. He died in Rome.

His pupils included: Ercole Bernabei, Antimo Liberati and Paolo Lorenzani. 

He composed Masses, motets, Magnificats, and other sacred vocal works. Much of Benevolo's fame as a composer has rested largely on his supposed composition of the fifty-three part Missa Salisburgensis, which musicologists believed was first performed by Benevolo in Salzburg Cathedral in 1628. Nevertheless, external and internal evidence have demonstrated that the Mass is in fact the work of composer Heinrich Ignaz Biber.

Orazio Benevolo: Missa Azzolina

Orazio Benevoli

Antonio Bertali

Antonio Bertali (probably March 1605 – 17 April 1669) was an Italian composer and violinist of the Baroque era.

He was born in Verona and received early music education there from Stefano Bernardi. Probably from 1624, he was employed as court musician in Vienna by Emperor Ferdinand II. In 1649, Bertali succeeded Giovanni Valentini as court Kapellmeister. He died in Vienna in 1669 and was succeeded in his post by Giovanni Felice Sances.

Bertali's compositions are in the manner of other northern Italian composers of the time and include operas, oratorios, a large number of liturgical works, and chamber music. 

The "Chaconne" or Ciaccona is perhaps his best-known work.

​Antonio Bertali

Antonio Bertali - Chiacona

Michel de La Guerre

Michel de La Guerre (c. 1605 – 1679) was a French organist and composer. His Triomphe de l'Amour sur les Bergers et les Bergères, with librettist Charles de Beys which was first sung in 1655, and staged in 1657, is one of the earliest French operas. 
After his death his son Marin de la Guerre succeeded him as organist and married Élisabeth Jacquet in 1684.

Michel de La Guerre


German theorist and composer Joachim Burmeister defines 26 musical-rhetorical figures in Musica poetica, published in Rostock. 

Orlando Gibbons receives a Bachelor of Music degree from Cambridge University. 

A decree issued by Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga spares the composer Salamone Rossi the indignity of wearing a yellow badge required of Jews in Mantua. 

Court musician Alfonso Ferrabosco the Younger provides music for Ben Jonson's The Masque o f Hymen. Later this year he composes music for Jonson’s play Volpone, staged at the Globe Theatre, London. 

Globe Theatre, London

Students of the Jesuit Seminario Romano introduce Agostino Agazzari's dramatic pastorale-cum-sacred opera Eumelio during Carnival.
Stylistically similar to Cavalieri’s Rappresentatione (1600), Eumelio depicts conflict between earthly and heavenly powers. 

Paolo Quagliati's celebratory work II carro di fedelta d’amore, comprising solos, duets and a concluding five-part concerted madrigal, is first performed around this time on a decorated cart in Rome during Carnival. 

Paolo Quagliati- No. 16 "Soavissimi fiori" 

After irregular attendance and a series of salary advances, John Dowland is dismissed from his position as lutenist to the Court of Denmark. He returns to London. 

19 May
Edmund Hooper, aged about 53, becomes the first official organist of Westminster Abbey. 




Agostino Agazzari produces his influential treatise Del sonare sopra il basso, expounding the principles of basso continuo and the realisation of a figured bass. He also specifies the roles of ‘foundation’ and ‘ornament’ instruments. In the first group, providing harmonic support, are the organ, harpsichord and, where voices are few in number, lute, theorbo and harp. The second type serve to decorate melodic lines and again include the lute, theorbo and harp; also instruments such as the lirone (similar to the fretted tenor viol), cittern, spinet

and violin. 

Agostino Agazzari - Benedicta sit sancta Trinitas

Agazzari - Stabat Mater

Hans Leo Hassler publishes his Psalmen und Christliche Gesang, comprising 52 four-part settings of Lutheran tunes in imitative style. 

Hans Leo Hassler: Beati omnes (Psalm 128)

Claudio Monteverdi presents three-voice madrigals and arias in Scherzi musicali, published in Venice. In a postscript to this work, Giulio Cesare Monteverdi elaborates his brother’s approach to traditional and modern styles of composition (explaining the terminology prima prattica and seconda prattica) in response to Artusi's published criticisms (of 1600, 1603). 

Salamone Rossi produces Il primo libro delle sinfonie e gagliarde. This book and a second the following year provide some of the earliest examples of the trio sonata, with music divided into three parts (based on the texture of basso continuo) for three to five instruments. 

Rossi, 1607, Il Primo Llibro dell sinfonie et gagliarde

Lodovico Viadana issues the second volume of his Concerti ecclesiastici. Included within the anthology is the Missa dominicalis, containing the earliest example of liturgical monody. 

Viadana, Ludovico: Concerto Ecclesiastico - O Dulcissima Maria

William Byrd supports private Catholic worship in England with his second book of Gradualia, published with some of the withdrawn pieces of the ill-fated 1605 volume. Both sets of Gradualia are reissued three years later. 

Ego sum Panis Vivus - William Byrd - Gradualia 1607

24 February and 1 March
Monteverdi presents the first operatic masterpiece, The Fable of Orpheus, commissioned by Prince Francesco Gonzaga and twice performed during Carnival in Mantua. With libretto by Alessandro Striggio, the five-act opera owes much to Jacopo Peri and Rinuccini's Euridice (1600), though it employs a far greater diversity of musical styles and forms. 


26 February
Francesca Caccini, daughter of Giulio, produces her first opus, La stiava, a balletto for Carnival entertainment at Pisa. Later this year she takes an official position as singer, teacher and composer to the Medici family. 

11 March
Giovanni Maria Nanino, a leading composer of the Roman school, dies in Rome, aged about 63. 

10 September
Progressive Italian composer Luzzasco Luzzaschi dies in Ferrara, aged about 62. 

6 November 
Sigmund Theophil Staden, German composer, born.

Sigmund Theophil Staden

Sigmund Theophil Staden (6 November 1607 – 30 July 1655) was an important early German composer.



Staden was born in Kulmbach in the Principality of Bayreuth, son of Johann Staden, the founder of the so-called Nuremberg school. Based in Nuremberg, he was the composer of Seelewig (1644), the first German Singspiel. The only other works of his that survive are three Friedens-Gesänge from 1651.

Sigmund Theophil Staden - Seelewig - Act I. Mein hoher Adel Stand läßt mich nicht

Sigmund Theophil Staden


Cesario Gussago publishes a collection of Sonate, adopting the ‘instrumental choir’ approach championed by Giovanni Gabrieli

Canti di Corte - Cesario Gussago, "la Cornala"

Hans Hassler becomes organist at the Electoral Chapel in Dresden, where he will remain until his death. His hymn collection Kirchengesange is published in Nuremburg. 

Hans Leo Hassler: Psalm 95 CANTATE DOMINO

Heinrich Schutz enrols at the University of Margburg to prepare for a career in law. 

28 May
Monteverdi's opera L’Arianna, on a libretto by Rinuccini, is first performed in celebration of the marriage of Francesco Gonzaga to Margherita of Savoy in Mantua. It is a resounding success, though in time all the music will be lost apart from the emotional recitative of Ariadne’s lament. 

Monteverdi: Lamento d'Arianna - Madrigale Libro VI

4 June
Monteverdi's dramatic ballet Il ballo delle ingrate (The Ballet of the Ungrateful Women) is premiered during the ongoing wedding festivities of Francesco Gonzaga and Margherita of Savoy. The text, by Rinuccini, is set in opera-style recitative. 

Claudio Monteverdi. Il Ballo delle Ingrate

Thomas Weelkes composes Ayeres or Phantasticke Spirites for Three Voices. The composer-organist is currently in post at Chichester Cathedral, where he has become infamous for once urinating on the Dean from the organ loft during Evensong— probably while drunk. 

Marco da Gagliano’s opera Dafne is premiered in Mantua with a revised version of Rinuccini’s libretto (previously set by Peri and Corsi). This year the composer becomes maestro di capella at San Lorenzo, Florence. 

Marco da Gagliano  - La Dafne, favola in musica in 1 scena unica per soli, coro e orchestra (1608)

21 July
Girolamo Frescobaldi is appointed organist of St Peter’s Rome. This year the 25-year-old composer brings out his first major publications: 12 keyboard pieces in Il Primo libro delle fantasie a quattro, and his first book of five- part madrigals. 

Girolamo Frescobaldi Il Primo Libro delle Fantasie 1608

Recuperating in Cremona, the exhausted Monteverdi receives a summons back to the Court of Mantua. He replies by letter, complaining of headaches and itching all over his body: ‘My father attributes my bad head to overwork and the itching to the air of Mantua which, he suspects, will soon be the death of me.’
Monteverdi tends his resignation, but very early the following year he is back in service with a pay rise and promised pension. 



Itinerant English composer and viol player William Brade contributes to the evolution of the dance suite with his Newe aassefiesene Paduanen, Galliarden, Cantzonen, Allmand und Coranten, published in Hamburg. 

William Brade - Paduana, Galliard, Coranta

Francis Tregian, serving time in Londons Fleet prison (most likely for religious dissension or unpaid debt), begins to copy and compile w'hat will become known as the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book

Francis Tregian the Younger (1574–1618) was an English recusant. Once thought to have been the copyist of a handful of important music manuscripts, his musical activities are the subject of dispute.

" . . . the English doe carroll; the French sing; the Spaniards weepe; the Italians, which dwell about the coasts o f Ianua, caper with their voyces; the others barke; but the Germanes (which I am ashamed to utter) doe howle like wolves."

John Dowland translates Ornithoparcus’s Musicae active micrologus (1515), published as The Art of Singing. 

John Wilbye publishes his emotionally extensive Second Set of Madrigals (in three to six parts), his crowning achievement. 

"Draw On, Sweet Night" from "Birthday Madrigals"

Thomas Ravenscroft assembles and publishes Pammelia, the first English collection of popular song arrangements, rounds and catches, including the children’s hit Three Blind Mice.

Ravenscroft's principal contributions are his collections of folk music: Pammelia (1609), Deuteromelia or The Seconde Part of Musicks Melodie (1609) and Melismata (1611), which contains one of the best-known works in his collections, The Three Ravens

Samuel Scheidt becomes court organist to Margrave Christian Wilhelm of Brandenburg. 

2 February
Ferrabosco provides music for Ben Jonson's The Masque of Queens. 

15 May
Giovanni Croce, a leading composer of the Venetian school, dies in Venice, aged about 52. 

German composer Heinrich Schutz aged 23, travels to Venice to study with Gabrieli


Joachim Wtewael  -  The Golden Age

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