Vincenzo Galilei

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Vincenzo Galilei (1520July 2, 1591) was an Italian lutenist, composer, and music theorist, and the father of the famous astronomer Galileo Galilei. He was born around 1520 in Santa Maria a Monte (near Florence) and died in Florence. He was a seminal figure in the musical life of the late Renaissance, and contributed significantly to the musical revolution which demarcates the beginning of the Baroque era.

Galilei was a skilled player of the lute, and early in life attracted the attention of powerful, well-connected patrons. He met Gioseffo Zarlino, the most important music theorist of the sixteenth century, in Venice, and began studying with him. Somewhat later he became interested in the attempts to revive ancient Greek music and drama, by way of his association with the Florentine Camerata (a group of poets, musicians and intellectuals led by Count Giovanni de' Bardi) as well as his contacts with Girolamo Mei, the foremost scholar of the time of ancient Greek music. Sometime in the 1570s his interests in music theory, as well as his composition, began to move in this direction. Some of Galilei's most important theoretical contributions involve the treatment of dissonance: he had a largely modern conception, allowing passing dissonance "if the voices flow smoothly" as well as on-the-beat dissonance, such as suspensions, which he called "essential dissonance." This describes Baroque practice, especially as he defines rules for resolution of suspensions by a preliminary leap away followed by a return to the expected note of resolution.

In addition he made some substantial discoveries in acoustics, particularly involving the physics of vibrating strings and columns of air. It is possible that in establishing the relation between the tension on a string and its frequency of vibration he was the first to discover a non-linear physical law.

Galilei composed two books of madrigals, as well as music for lute, and a considerable quantity of music for voice and lute; this latter category is considered to be his most important contribution as it anticipated in many ways the style of the early Baroque. Many scholars credit him with directing the activity of his son away from pure, abstract mathematics and towards experimentation, a direction which was of utmost importance for the history of science.

Sources

  • Article Vincenzo Galilei, in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1980. ISBN 1561591742
  • The Concise Edition of Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 8th ed. Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky. New York, Schirmer Books, 1993. ISBN 002872416X
  • Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0393095304fr:Vincenzo Galilei

pl:Vincenzo Galilei sv:Vincenzo Galilei

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