jane's blog

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Composer Egon Wellesz Reflects on Pietro Cavalli

Giving the voice individuality was something not yet touched upon up to Monteverdi's time. Pietro Cavalli, a student of Monteverdi, first wrote words in a dramatic style and gave the vocal line an independent life of its own, creating vocal personality. This was at the end of the 1600's and completely new to musical writing, marking the real beginning of "bel canto." This is not to be confused with the "Bel Canto Era" (1810 to 1830), involving a style and a vocal technique in addition, but it indicates that attention to the voice as an instrument started in the Baroque Era.
Egon Wellesz, composer of the Second Vienna School, "atonality" and later "twelve tone writing" (1903-1925), who studied Byzantine and Baroque elements, reflected on Cavalli saying:
"Cavalli, who first wrote independent vocal line, is to Monteverdi as Strauss to Wagner...Monteverdi had the brilliance, but Cavalli the genius!"

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