Galilei, Vincenzo

About 1533-about 1600

Celebrated musical theorist; was born, lived and died in Florence, where he was one of the most prominent of those who frequented the house of Count Bardi for the discussion of subjects in art, music and philosophy. He played the lute and the violin, and was learned in Greek musical theory, the principles of which he upheld in opposition to those who used counterpoint. He not only argued and wrote from this standpoint, advocating simpler musical forms, but composed some airs for a single voice with lute accompaniment. This was the beginning of the modern vocal solo, an idea developed by his successors, Caccini and Peri, who later produced the first musical drama. His works are of great historical interest. The dialogue, II Fromino, published 1568 at Venice, gives much information concerning the mode of musical notation and the method of tuning used by the Italian lutenists of Galilei's time. Several other pamphlets in dialogue form deal with the controversy between himself and Zarlino, a contemporary teacher of counterpoint, and Galilei's former instructor. His son, the great astronomer Galileo, is said to have also written a musical treatise.