Curating Music History: Instrumental Music from L’Orfeo (Monteverdi)

On my last Curating Music History post, I had a little request from @natubat to do a piece from Monteverdi. I’m more than happy to take requests if you have a piece or a composer that you might want featured, I’ll do my best to try and find something! It can also be a vague request, perhaps an atmosphere or feeling, or even a particular genre or time period or country?

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The Composition

This collection of pieces are the instrumental interludes from the opera “Orfeo” by Monteverdi. As an instrumentalist, I find myself attracted more to instrumental pieces rather than the singing, and so that was partly the reason why I chose these excerpts. All the interludes belong in the story of Orfeo, and they play either scene and atmosphere setting roles or they provide a little musical cleanser from the action and singing on the stage. As such, they are a wide variety of characters, ranging from dances to instrumental sinfonias.

The opera Orfeo (completed in 1607) is widely considered to be the first “real” opera and commonly marks the beginning of the Baroque era. However, the idea of an opera at that time is vastly different to the common Romantic operas that you might have in mind from the local Opera Houses. The idea of the valkaryied singer screaming their voices out was not an ideal that was aspired to at that time. In fact, singing (and instrumental playing) had more in common with speech and rhetoric rather than the pure production of sound.

Like most Baroque opera, the story of this is based upon Classical myths, in this case it is the story of the opera is the Greek myth of Orfeo and Euridice, sometimes known as Orpheus and the Underworld.

If you listen closely, there are instruments playing in some of the excerpts that don’t find a place in the modern symphonic setting. These are instruments that have long fell out of favour or been replaced by their modern counterparts, that have been revived by the Early Music movement.

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The Composer

[Wikimedia Commons](https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bernardo_Strozzi_-_Claudio_Monteverdi_(c.1630).jpg)

Claudio Monteverdi (1567 -1643) was an Italian composer who was considered to be the bridge between the Reconnaissance and Early Baroque styles of music composition. Educated and composing mostly in the earlier polyphonic styles, he started to extend the ideas of composition and musical language as he adopted some of the forms of the newer style of the “Seconda Practica”.

Most of his output is now lost and his music was neglected for many centuries, only finding some rediscovery in the Early Music revivals of the 20th century. In addition to the legacy of his music, there are some documentation and letters that exist from the time in his hand, which talk about mundane musician’s problems such as income, patronage and musical politics.

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The Performers

The English Baroque Soloists is one of the foremost Early Music ensembles in the world. Cunning named and based in England, it draws upon the cream of the Early Music talent (mostly based in London) in the United Kingdom.

John Eliot Gardiner is one of the musical pillars of the Early Music movement. Often his interpretations are derided by detractors as too focused on fast tempi, however, I find there is no problem with his interpretations for my own taste.

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Previous Curating Music History posts

This is a list of my previous posts in this series. I’m more than happy to take requests if you have a piece or a composer that you might want featured, I’ll do my best to try and find something! It can also be a vague request, perhaps an atmosphere or feeling, or even a particular genre or time period or country?

[Menuet and Trio from “Palindrome” Symphony (Haydn)]( https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistorymenuetandtriofrompalindromesymphonyhaydn-sg1088zz9q)

[1st movement from the String Quintet (Schubert)]( https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistory1stmovementfromthestringquintetschubert-qefsap3mz9)

[1st movement from Brahms Violin sonata in G major]( https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistory1stmovementfrombrahmsviolinsonataingmajor-9myfcrdj88) [Sonata Representativa (aka The Animal Sonata by Biber)]( https://steemit.com/animals/@bengy/curatingmusichistorysonatarepresentativaakatheanimalsonatabybiber-a27hwu2ehb) [Curating Music History: A Night on Bald Mountain (Mussorgsky)]( https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistoryanightonbaldmountainmussorgsky-gl6t2po3mj) [El sombrero de tres picos (The Three Cornered Hat, de Falla)]( https://steemit.com/ballet/@bengy/curatingmusichistoryelsombrerodetrespicosthethreecorneredhatdefalla-oeljcbyf06)

[Oboe and Violin Double Concerto (JS Bach)]( https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistoryoboeandviolindoubleconcertojsbach-zsbkqvodhv)

[An American in Paris (Gershwin)](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistoryanamericaninparisgershwin-40p5crf6x5)

[1st and 2nd Arabesque (Debussy)](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistory1stand2ndarabesquedebussy-dydw89qss6)

[Last movement from 6th Brandenburg Concerto (JS Bach)](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistorylastmovementfrom6thbrandenburgconcertojsbach-z6eejlgd0p)

[Agnus Dei from Faure Reqiuem](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistoryagnusdeifromfaurereqiuem-lq6jv3kdwu)

[Vivaldi double Cello concerto](https://steemit.com/steemitbloggers/@bengy/curatingmusichistoryvivaldidoublecelloconcerto-c5m4j74gn9)

[Last movements from 2nd Sonata in a minor (Westhoff)](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistorylastmovementsfrom2ndsonatainaminorwesthoff-dkytq8pjtl)

[The Typewriter by Erik Satie](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistorythetypewriterbyeriksatie-7reubfq2xu)

[Children’s Corner (Debussy)](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistorychildrenscornerdebussy-sylgv8gmsx)

[Last movement from Brahms Violin Concerto](https://steemit.com/steemitbloggers/@bengy/curatingmusichistorylastmovementfrombrahmsviolinconcerto-npuak4tmku)

[Finale from 4th Symphony (Tchaikovsky)](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistoryfinalefrom4thsymphonytchaikovsky-cb9lh22c89)

[Last movement from “Jupiter” Symphony #41 (Mozart)](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/-3y1gya4zzt)

[Overture to Midsummer Night’s Dream (Mendelssohn)](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistoryoverturetomidsummernightsdream-0rw0m1edwt)

[Histoire du Tango: Cafe 1930 (Piazzolla)](https://steemit.com/history/@bengy/curatingmusichistoryhistoiredutangocafe1930piazzolla-qcgxka77bj)

[Last movement from Violin sonata 2 (Prokofiev)](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistorylastmovementfromviolinsonata2prokofiev-6csk14wdpe)

[Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (Britten)](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistoryyoungpersonsguidetotheorchestrabritten-qj1ahvz9c4)

[‘Sonata in d minor for violin and continuo” (Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre)](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistorysonataindminorforviolinandcontinuoelisabethjacquetdelaguerre-h2kn5f216n)

[‘Sonata duodecima’ for Violin and Continuo(Isabella Leonarda)](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistorysonataduodecimaforviolinandcontinuoisabellaleonarda-r0z05g15t7)

[Chaconne from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (Lully)](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistorychaconnefromlebourgeoisgentilhommelully-cyc2ds6og9)

[Alla Danza Tedesca from Beethoven String Quartet Op.130](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistoryalladanzatedescafrombeethovenstringquartetop130-8x0kufylie)

[6 Elizabethan Songs: Argento](https://steemit.com/classical-music/@bengy/curatingmusichistory6elizabethansongsargento-3hobwde3a1)

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