- Zarlino, Gioseffo
- (1517-1590)Italian composer and music theorist. One of several talented students of Adriaan Willaert, the Flemish choirmaster of St. Mark's at Venice, he was a native of Chioggia and from childhood aimed at a career in the church. He was educated by Franciscan friars and joined that order in 1536. Also in 1536 he was a singer at the cathedral of Chioggia. He studied theol-ogy and took minor clerical orders. In 1541 he moved to Venice to study with Willaert, and in 1565 he succeeded his fellow pupil Cipriano de Rore in the influential position at St. Mark's once held by their teacher.Zarlino published two influential books on music theory. The first was Istitutioni harmoniche / Principles of Harmony (1558), which was translated into French, German, and Dutch and which included discussion of counterpoint and the various modes defined by classi-cal writers on music and also rules to guide composers in underlay-ing words to polyphonic music. His second book was Dimostrationi harmoniche, a collection of dialogues that supposedly reflect conver-sations of friends meeting in 1562 at the home of the ailing Willaert. His theoretical writings were sharply attacked by his own former pupil Vincenzo Galilei, and his Sopplimenti musicali /Musical Sup-plements (1588) was in part intended to reply to Galilei's criticisms. In 1589 he published a four-volume collection of his writings.Zarlino's position at St. Mark's required him to compose many musical works, but few of them survive. He produced both motets and madrigals, and he composed a mass for the consecration of the Venetian Church of Santa Maria della Salute as well as the music for a pageant celebrating the naval victory of the Christian powers over the Turks at Lepanto in 1571. In his writings Zarlino dis-agreed with extreme classicists who dismissed all modern music as defective because it did not conform to ancient theory, but he did believe that music had declined at the end of the ancient world along with all other forms of learning and that a great Renaissance of music had recently taken place, in which his master Willaert was "a new Pythagoras." In 1583 he was offered the bishopric of Chioggia but declined the honor, preferring to remain in his influ-ential musical office at St. Mark's.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.