In 1565, on the resignation of Cipriano de Rore, Zarlino took over the post of maestro di cappella of St. Mark's, one of the most prestigious musical positions in Italy, and held it until his death. While maestro di cappella he taught some of the principal figures of the Venetian school of composers, including Claudio Merulo, Girolamo Diruta, and Giovanni Croce, as well as Vincenzo Galilei, the father of the astronomer, and the famous reactionary polemicist Giovanni Artusi.
Zarlino was the first to recognize the primacy of the triad over the interval as a means of harmonic thinking. His development of just intonation came from a realization of the imperfection of the intervals in the Pythagorean system, and a desire to retain as much purity as possible using a limited number of tones. He was also the first to attempt an explanation of the old prohibition of parallel fifths and octaves as a rule of counterpoint, and the first to study the effect and harmonic implications of the false relation.
Zarlino's writings, primarily published by Francesco Franceschi, spread throughout Europe at the end of the 16th century. Translations and annotated versions were common in France, Germany, as well as in the Netherlands among the students of Sweelinck, thus influencing the next generation of musicians who represented the early Baroque style.
Zarlino's compositions are more conservative in idiom than those of many of his contemporaries. His madrigals avoid the homophonic textures commonly used by other composers, remaining polyphonic throughout, in the manner of his motets. His works were published between 1549 and 1567, include 41 motets, mostly for five and six voices, and 13 secular works, mostly madrigals, for four and five voices.
Gioseffo Zarlino, Canticum Canticorum Salomonis. Michael Noone, Ensemble Plus Ultra. GCD921406
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