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the Fronimo through the polemics of the Dialogo and Discorsoto some highly original compositional theory in his last, unpublished treatises, there was continuity and consistency in his thought and it was fed by both prctice and research.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 affections" (p.28), and he defended the lute against the organ for its ability to express the affections 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
up down