Gioseffo Zarlino

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Zarlino, Gioseffo


Born (probably) Apr. 22, 1517 (according to other sources, January 31 or March 22), in Chioggia; died Feb. 14, 1590 (according to other data, February 4), in Venice. Italian composer, organist, and music theorist.

Zarlino was music director at Saint Mark’s in Venice. A progressive Renaissance scholar, he laid the foundations for the modern study of harmony. In formulating his theories, Zarlino relied on his ear rather than on abstract calculations. The complete edition of his theoretical works was published in Venice in 1588 and 1589. Zarlino’s compositions include motets and madrigals.


Flury, R. G. Zarlino als Komponist. Winterthur, 1962.
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Obras como Le istitutioni harmoniche (1558), Dimonstrationi harmoniche (1571) y Sopplimenti musicali (1588) de Gioseffo Zarlino proponian no solo una racionalizacion sistematica de la armonia, sino que consideraban dicha racionalizacion un espejo del orden mismo de la naturaleza.
His first profession was as a lutenist, but his intellectual abilities were early recognized by his Florentine patron, Giovanni de' Bardi, who sent him to Venice to study music theory with Gioseffo Zarlino around 1563 (the year before the birth of his first son, Galileo).
Two examples include: Heinrich Loritus's (better known as Glareanus) treatise, Dodecachordon (Basel, 1547), a treatise in part that explores a system of ecclesiastical modes, and which in turn, influenced such writers as Gioseffo Zarlino, whose Istitutioni Harmoniche (Venice, 1558) can also be found in Selch's collection (catalog, pp.
The next section of the book contains two chapters devoted to Gioseffo Zarlino and his treatise Le istitutioni harmoniche (1558), described by Judd as "the culmination of the art of presenting musical examples in printed treatises within an intellectual culture in which musical theory had achieved its own place" (180).
Gioseffo Zarlino (1517-1590) is familiar to many as the author of a series of important writings on modality, counterpoint, and the craft of composition.
It might be noted that Gioseffo Zarlino gave expression to the tendency to accommodate the music to the text by formulating it as a compositional directive.
In the third chapter on "Sense over Reason: The Anti-Theoretical Tradition," for example, Palisca describes how modern Italians disagreed with, set aside, and advanced new arguments against "establishment" theorists like hoary Boethius or the numerology of Gioseffo Zarlino.
Musica ficta: theories of accidental inflections in vocal polyphony from Marchetto da Padova to Gioseffo Zarlino.
Spitzer offers insightful commentary on the works of Gioseffo Zarlino, Robert Fludd, Johannes Kepler, Marin Mersenne, Athanasius Kircher, Christoph Bernhard, Johann David Heinichen, Joachim Burmeister, and Johann Adolph Scheibe, among others, with musical examples from Heinrich Schutz and Johann Sebastian Bach.
As Bergquist explains, Lasso steadfastly followed this theoretical backdrop in many of his printed sets and cycles, even as contemporary theorists such as Heinrich Glarean and Gioseffo Zarlino promoted new systems based on twelve modal categories.
Rebecca Edwards ("Setting the Tone at San Marco: Gioseffo Zarlino amidst Doge, Procuratori and Cappella Personnel") shows that the great theorist Zarlino was a remarkably able anti respected administrator whose incumbency marked a period of exceptional stability, growth, and discipline among the chapel personnel.
Kurtzman's modal analyses, which draw on the Renaissance tradition of Heinrich Glarean and Gioseffo Zarlino, seem at first to create something of a procrustean bed for Monteverdi's music.