Vincenzo Galilei

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Galilei, Vincenzo

Galilei, Vincenzo, celebrated Italian lutenist, composer, and music theorist; b. S. Maria a Monte, near Florence, c. 1520; d. Florence (buried), July 2, 1591. He was the father of the great astronomer Galileo Galilei. A skillful lutenist and violinist, and a student of ancient Greek theory, Vincenzo was a prominent member of the artistic circle meeting at Count Bardi’s house known as the Florentine Camerata. His compositions for solo voice with lute accompaniment may be regarded as the starting point of the monody successfully cultivated by Peri, Caccini, etc., the founders of the “opera in musica”. A zealous advocate of Grecian simplicity, in contrast with contrapuntal complexity, he publ. a Dialogo…della musica antica et della moderna (Florence, 1581; to the 2nd ed. [1602] is appended a polemical Discorso…intorno all’ opere di messer Gioseffo Zarlino da Chioggia, which had appeared separately in 1589) and Fronimo. Dialogo… (in 2 parts:Venice, 1568 and 1569; new ed., 1584), all of considerable historical interest. Vol. IV of Istituzioni e Monumenti dell’ Arte Musicale Italiana (Milan, 1934), ed. by F. Fano, is devoted entirely to Galilei; it contains a large selection of music reprints from his Fronimo. Dialogo… (lute transcriptions by Galilei and original compositions), Libra d’intavolatura di liuto (1584), 17 secondo libro de madrigali a 4 et a 5 voci (1587), and a 4-part Cantilena, together with biographical details, list of works, notes about extant MSS, reprints, transcriptions, etc. His Contrapunti a due voci (1584) was ed. by Louise Read (Smith Coll. Music Archives, Vol. VIII, 1947).


O. Fleissner, Die Madrigale V. G.s und sein Dialogo della musica antica e moderna (Munich, 1922).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Vincenzo Galilei (vēnchĕn´tsō gälēlĕ´ē), d. 1591, Italian lutenist, singer, writer, and composer; father of Galileo. As a member of the Florentine camerata (see opera), he was one of the first to compose recitatives. Thoroughly trained in the contrapuntal tradition of the Renaissance, he wrote the first literary treatise attacking counterpoint and advocating monody, Dialogo della musica antica e della moderna (1581).

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Galilei, Vincenzo (b S. Maria a Monte, c.1520; d Florence, 1591). It. composer and lutenist. Associate of members of Bardi's Camerata from which first opera perfs. developed. Pubd. 2 books of madrigals and one of lute pieces. Also mus. theorist: author of Dialogo della musica antica e della moderna (1581). His Il fronimo (1568, rev. 1584) is a valuable treatise on lute-playing. His son Galileo Galilei was the great astronomer.