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Composers Datebook™ is a daily two-minute program designed to inform, engage, and entertain listeners with timely information about composers of the past and present. Each program notes significant or intriguing musical events involving composers of the past and present, with appropriate and accessible music related to each.Read more »
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Details on the lives and careers of composers born before 1700 tend to be a bit skimpy, at best. For example, we know that the Italian Baroque composer Jacopo Peri was born on today’s date in 1561, but we’re not sure if that was in Rome or Florence.
As a point of reference, remember that William Shakespeare was born in 1564, just three years after Peri. And by the 1580s, around the same time Shakespeare was learning to be a playwright, Peri and some of his Italian colleagues were experimenting with a new art form that we call “opera.”
There was much discussion at the time about what the music of the ancient Greeks must have been like, and how a complete dramatic story might be told from beginning to end in music, utilizing some of the same techniques that composers employed to accompany the much shorter songs and madrigals popular at the time.
Peri was active as a musician and singer at the Medici court in Florence, where early attempts to come up with some answers took place. He was instrumental in the production of two of the earliest operas for which the complete music survives: Dafne, which premiered around 1597 and Euridice from 1600.
Peri outlived his English contemporary Shakespeare by some 17 years. Shakespeare died in 1616 at the age of 52, while Peri died sometime in August of 1633, at 72, a ripe old age for the 17th century.Read more »