Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Giovanni Battista Guarini
He was born in Ferrara, and spent his early life both in Padua and Ferrara, entering the service of the Duke of Ferrara in 1567. After 15 years in the service of the Duke, he resigned and withdrew to his family estate, the Villa Guarina, where he wrote his most notable work, Il pastor fido (1590; The Faithful Shepherd, 1647). This play, a pastoral tragicomedy, polished in style, was translated into many languages and became popular during the 17th century. It set the pattern for a code of refinement and gallantry that lasted until the late 18th century.
He was the father of Anna Guarini, one of the famous virtuoso singers of the Ferrara court, the three women of the concerto di donne. She was murdered by her husband in 1598, with the assistance of her brother Girolamo.
Work and influence
No poet was more influential on music history in the late Renaissance and Baroque eras than Guarini. His poems were set more often by madrigal composers than the work of any other poet, even Tasso, who came in a close second; the prolific madrigal composer Philippe de Monte even named one of his collections Il pastor fido after Guarini's most famous work. His popularity was due to his providing texts to composers which were rich with possibilities for word-painting and other easy translations of emotion into music.
While Guarini's work may be seen as lacking the deep feeling and sentiment of his predecessor at the court of d'Este, Torquato Tasso, it was precisely this quality which commended it to musical setting at a time when excessive emotionalism had become unfashionable.
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