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Monteverdi is still too often thought of as a revolutionary who single-handed overthrew the principles governing the composition of music for generations past. The Monteverdi Companion offers chapters on aspects of Monteverdi’s work that relate his achievement to the music and ideas of his elders and contemporaries, illustrating the ways he learned from them and how he incorporated new procedures and principles into his music.This book is not meant to be a comprehensive account of Monteverdi’s life and works. What it sets out to do is to study certain aspects of his music and environment which have been insufficiently stressed in most of the existing books about him and to offer fresh views about some of his more familiar works. In “The Man as seen through his Letters,” Denis Arnold and Nigel Fortune provide translations of some forty letters, linked by interpretive commentary, in which the composer’s ideas, methods, and approach to composition and other musical matters are clearly revealed. Two chapters on “The Musical Environment” discuss Monteverdi in relation to his teachers, colleagues, and pupils. Monteverdi as thinker and musician is discussed in chapters on the Artusi-Monteverdi controversy, the prima prattica and the seconda prattica, and the madrigal guerrieri, et amorosi. Two further chapters treat Monteverdi as operatic composer, dealing with his first opera and the opera orchestra of his time. The book has a comprehensive bibliography, including a guide to the available editions of the music.
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Claude V. Palisca, late professor of music at Yale University, began his collaboration on A History of Western Music with the Third Edition. Among his many publications are a history of Baroque music and a collection of scholarly essays on Italian Renaissance music.
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