Mei, Girolamo, eminent Italian scholar and writer on music; b. Florence, May 27, 1519; d. Rome, July 1594. He studied with the scholar Piero Vettori, serving as his assistant in editing and annotating the works of the great Greek and Latin men of letters. Upon the founding of the Accademia de’Umidi (1540; later the Accademia Fiorentia), he became one of its first members. After settling in Rome (1559), he was a secretary to Cardinal Giovanni Ricci da Montepulciano (1561–74). He then lived in the palace of the nobleman Giovanni Francesco Ridolfi. He publ. Discorso sopra la musica antica e moderna (Venice, 1602; reprint, 1968, ed. by G. Massera), the first significant study of the tonoi in Greek music. He also left in MS De modis musicis antiquorum libri IV, De nomi delle corde del monochordo, and Trattato di musica: Come potesse tanto la musica appresso gli antichi. His letters to the members of Bardi’s Camerata in Florence are of great historical significance, for they led to a call for the reform of music and the development of monody, which culminated in the rise of the first music dramas and the new recitative style. See C. Palisca, ed., Girolamo Mei (1519–1594): Letters on Ancient and Modern Music to Vincenzo Galilei and Giovanni Bardi, Musicological Studies and Documents, III (1960; 2nd ed., 1977).
B. Hanning, The Influence of Humanistic Thought and Italian Renaissance Poetry on the Formation of Opera (diss., Yale Univ., 1968).
—Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire