Marco da Gagliano


Born: May 1, 1582; Florence, Italy   Died: February 25, 1643  
"Dafne" was perhaps the best known composition of this Florentine composer. He was the master of the chapel in the Medici court from 1609 until his death approximately 35 years later. He began as an assistant in S. Lorenzo, Florence. His early responsibilities included teaching singing to the men-of-the-cloth, and writing music for Holy Week each year. Gagliano composed a great diversity of music including masses, motets, madrigals, Read more oratorios, ballets and operas. He was also the founder of the "Accademia degli Elevati" specifically for music. Many of the original members were also members of a fraternity of laity responsible for numerous compositions which they performed both in public and private (the "Compagnia dell'Arcangelo Raffaello"). Some of the more prominent members of the fraternity were Peri, Jacopo, Turco and Bardi and the accademy included the aforementioned as well as Fontanelli, Cavaccio, Benedetti, Caccini, Orlandi, Bonini and Allegri. As stated, Gagliano's best known work was the opera "Dafne". It was an opera in the truest sense of the term; he did not think the music itself was outstanding but, it was a combined, synthetic effort of writing, composing, instrumentalism and theatrics. In the direction of such performances, Gagliano was sure to seat the orchestra in such a manner so that they could see the faces of the performers. This was a practical directive so that the singers and instrumentalists could stay together. The qualities of his compositions were almost as diverse as the genres for which he composed. He employed the use of traditional types, composed a variety of airs interspersed throughout his operas, wrote madrigals homophonically, but empoyed polyphony for three/four voice pieces upto and including ensemble work. Imitation was used simply but effectively in the opening intervals of a particular phrase only. Music was written predominantly syllabically but Gagliano employed melisma to accentuate important parts of the text. His "Musiche" of 1615 was perhaps the most noteworthy collection of secular duets and trios as it stands as the most important and illustrative text of its kind for the period. The sacred music was often scored for four to six voices, quite often six, and extended to double choirs in scope. The texture of his sacred music was sombre when necessary, and required skilled singers for the elaborate lines. Gagliano's "Responsoriae hebdomadae," responsorials for Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Holy week were the most cherished works after his death. Read less

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