Lodovico Zacconi
Lodovico Zacconi (June 11, 1555 – March 23, 1627) was an Italian-Austrian composer and musical theorist of the late Renaissance
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

 and early Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 eras. He worked as a singer, theologian
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

, and writer on music in northern Italy and Austria; for a time he was in the employ of Archduke Karl of Graz, and worked in Graz
The more recent population figures do not give the whole picture as only people with principal residence status are counted and people with secondary residence status are not. Most of the people with secondary residence status in Graz are students...

 and Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...



Born in Pesaro
Pesaro is a town and comune in the Italian region of the Marche, capital of the Pesaro e Urbino province, on the Adriatic. According to the 2007 census, its population was 92,206....

, in the Marche
The population density in the region is below the national average. In 2008, it was 161.5 inhabitants per km2, compared to the national figure of 198.8. It is highest in the province of Ancona , and lowest in the province of Macerata...

, Zacconi became an Augustinian friar
A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.-Friars and monks:...

 at Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, where he was ordained priest. In 1577 he was in Venice studying at the church of San Stefano, and at some point in the following six years he was accepted by Andrea Gabrieli as a student of counterpoint. In 1584 he auditioned at San Marco as a singer, and was accepted; however he seems to have declined the position. Also at this time he met Zarlino, the prominent Venetian School theorist; he was to mention the meeting in the second part of his Prattica di musica (1622). On July 20, 1585, he joined the musical establishment of Archduke Karl of Graz, a position he retained until Karl's death in 1590. Subsequently he joined the chapel of Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria, which was directed by Orlande de Lassus
Orlande de Lassus
Orlande de Lassus was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance...


In 1596 he left the employ of Wilhelm
William V, Duke of Bavaria
William V, Duke of Bavaria , called the Pious, was Duke of Bavaria from 1579 to 1597.- Education and early life :...

, returning to Italy; in the following years he worked as a prior at Pesaro, as a preacher and administrator in both Italy and Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

. He retired to Pesaro in 1612, where he remained until his death (at Fiorenzuola di Focara, near Pesaro).


Zacconi's fame rests on his great work Prattica di Musica, first published in 1592 at Venice, of which a second volume appeared in 1619 (or, according to other sources, 1622).

His theoretical works are conservative, and make no mention of the emerging Baroque style, in spite of his studies with the distinguished Venetian composer Andrea Gabrieli
Andrea Gabrieli
Andrea Gabrieli was an Italian composer and organist of the late Renaissance. The uncle of the somewhat more famous Giovanni Gabrieli, he was the first internationally renowned member of the Venetian School of composers, and was extremely influential in spreading the Venetian style in Italy as...

. His most important works are the two books of Prattica di musica (Musical Practice) which he published in Venice in 1592 and 1622. These two volumes—containing four works—treat exhaustively of musical theory, and are copiously illustrated. The directions for rendering polyphonic music are of the highest value, especially the Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music and the best-known 16th-century representative of the Roman School of musical composition...

 illustrations. He deals fully with the six Authentic and six Plagal Modes, studiously omitting the Locrian
Locrian mode
The Locrian mode is either a musical mode or simply a diatonic scale. Although the term occurs in several classical authors on music theory, including Cleonides and Athenaeus , there is no warrant for the modern usage of Locrian as equivalent to Glarean's Hyperaeolian mode, in either classical,...

 and Hypolocrian Modes. But he also treats of orchestral instruments—their compass and method of playing—and gives valuable information as to the scoring of early opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

s and oratorio
An oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias...

s. In fact he covers the whole ground of music, as practised at the close of the 16th century.

Zacconi's treatises are an invaluable guide to study of performance practice of vocal music of the very late Renaissance. Parts of his work were incorporated by Michael Praetorius
Michael Praetorius
Michael Praetorius was a German composer, organist, and music theorist. He was one of the most versatile composers of his age, being particularly significant in the development of musical forms based on Protestant hymns, many of which reflect an effort to make better the relationship between...

 into his Syntagma musicum (1618), and by Pietro Cerone
Pietro Cerone
Pietro Cerone was an Italian music theorist, singer and priest of the late Renaissance. He is most famous for an enormous music treatise he wrote in 1613, which is useful in the studying compositional practices of the 16th century.-Life:...

 into his Melopeo y maestro (1613).


  • Gustave Reese
    Gustave Reese
    Gustave Reese was an American musicologist and teacher. Reese is known mainly for his work on medieval and Renaissance music, particularly with his two publications Music in the Middle Ages and Music in the Renaissance ; these two books remain the standard reference works for these two eras,...

    , Music in the Renaissance. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0-393-09530-4
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