Strozzi: Sino alla morte

Program Note

Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677)
“Sino alla morte” from Diporti di Euterpe, Op.7 (“Until death” from Euterpe’s Pleasures) (1659)

 Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677) was both a highly praised composer and vocal performer of the seventeenth century. She made significant contributions to Venetian arias and ariettas but is most widely recognized as one of the earliest composers, male or female, to write cantatas in such high numbers. From 1644 to 1664, Strozzi published eight volumes of music containing over 100 works, with particular emphasis on the soprano voice. The seventh collection, Diporti di Euterpe (Euterpe’s Pleasures), published in 1659, reveals a highly cultivated understanding of expression, Strozzi’s music having the unique capacity to shock the listener with a raw evocation of emotion. While her successes as both vocalist and composer are appropriately acknowledged today, one must consider that her gender, given the time and place, makes these feats all the more impressive. Not to mention, it was through her exploration of the secular cantata in a musical culture primarily dominated by opera that she achieved her success. She left a lasting impact on composers and musicians, particularly female, in the generations that followed, and a distinguished legacy as one of the first secular female composers in Western Europe.

Adapted from writings by Rachel Rubin