In this 1610 choral tour-de-force, Monteverdi unveiled a free-wheeling new style which shocked his peers.

O f all the musical minds active in Italy circa 1600, the most brilliant was that of Claudio Monteverdi. Born in Cremona in May 1567, Monteverdi took up his first post at the Gonzaga court in Mantua around 1591, initially just as a singer and violist, but soon rising to the position of music director. As a young man, he soaked up the exciting musical developments emanating from Florence, and by the end of the decade was writing in a new expressive style of simple textures, bold dissonances and adventurous tonality.
 

By 1600, Monteverdi was so prominent in the new musical movement that he became the target of a vitriolic attack by Giovanni Maria Artusi, a conservative music theorist from Bologna. In The imperfections of modern music, Artusi lambasts Monteverdi’s music (without mentioning him by name). Monteverdi countered with his own The second practice, outlining two styles of composition: the older style of the late Renaissance and the newer style...