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Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677)

Born August 6, 1619
Venice, Italy
Died November 11, 1677
Padua, Italy
Nationality Italian
Era Baroque

Barbara Strozzi was the adopted (and possibly illegitimate) daughter of composer Giulio Strozzi. She was trained in various aspects of music from a young age, frequently entertaining her father’s guests with her sweet tunes. Her primary teacher was Francesco Cavalli. She published her first volume of songs (a book of madrigals) in 1644. She went on to publish another seven sets of vocal pieces, though one of these sets has been lost to time. These works contain a continuo accompaniment, some even calling for additional strings. Most of these were published after her father’s death; scholars believe that he was quite controlling. Her songs have been described as “singer’s music.” They are not particularly difficult but sit well in a typical lyric soprano range. Her cantatas are quite complex compositions, switching between multiple styles of recitative, arioso, and aria. Most of the texts were by her father, well-known poets, or are anonymous lyrics.

See Also:
Anna Beer. Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music. London: Oneworld Publications, 2016.

Beth L. Glixon. “New Light on the Life and Career of Barbara Strozzi.” Musical Quarterly 81 (1997): 311-35.

Ellen Rosand. “Barbara Strozzi, virtuosissima cantatrice: the Composer’s Voice.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 31 (1978): 241-81.

Candace Magner’s blog dedicated to Barbara Strozzi includes translations of many of Strozzi’s vocal works: