Vincenzo Galilei (Vincentio, Vincenzio)
b S Maria a Monte late 1520s d Florence,buried 2.7 1591
Italian theorist, composer, lutenist, singer and teacher. He was the leader of the movement
to revive through monody the ancient Greek ideal of the union of music and poetry.
Galilei was probably born later than his traditionally accepted date of birth of about 1520.
As a youth he studied the lute. It was probably his playing that attracted the attention
of Giovanni de´ Bardi, his principal patron, who facilitated his theoretical studies with
Zarlino in Venice, probably about 1563.
By that time he had settled in Pisa, where in 1562
he married a member of a local noble family. The scientist Galileo (who was born in 1564) was
the first of his six or seven children; another was the lutenist Michelagnolo Galilei (b 18
dec 1575). In 1572 Galilei went to Florence and his family joined him in 1574. He enjoyed
the support of other patrons besides Bardi: in 1578-79 in Munich Duke Albert V of Bavaria;
about1584 Jacopo Corsi; and in the summer of 1587 Pietro Lazzaro Zefirini in Siena.
Galilei´s theoretical writing grew out of his lifelong activity as a composer, lutenist, singer
and teacher.Although his writing progressed from the purely didactic approach of the Fronimo
through the polemics of the Dialogo and Discorsoto some highly original
compositional theory in his last, unpublished treatises, there was continuity and consistency
in his thought and it was fed by both prctice and research.
As early as the Fronimo (1568) he deplored the tendency of modern singers always to
seek novelty and difficulty when they should prefer the very easy.... because only harmonies
that come from notes of some (i.e. longer) value are apt for expressing the human
(p.28), and he defended the lute against the organ for its ability to express the
of harmonies, such as hardness, softness, harshness and sweetness and consequently shrieks,
laments, complaints and weeping with such grace and wonder (p.30).
Claude V Palisca