Continuing our look at historical women composers this month, let’s talk about Francesca Caccini (1587–1640). Singer, composer, and teacher, Caccini was born into a musical family, the daughter of famed composer Giulio Caccini. She made her singing debut at the wedding of Marie de’ Medici and Henry IV, for whom her father composed wedding music. Henry IV was so impressed by her talent that he requested she come into his service. Her father claimed that she was not granted permission from her current family of service, the Grand Duke Ferdinando de’ Medici of Tuscany. Some scholars, however, believe Giulio made a false claim, not wanting to lose control over his daughter.
Courtesy of wikimedia.org
In 1607, when Caccini was just 20, she was appointed to sing and compose for the court of the Grand-Duke of Tuscany by the Grand Duchess Christine de Lorraine, who controlled the court at the time. The fact that the court was controlled by a woman likely helped Caccini’s career to blossom, giving her more opportunities than she may have experienced otherwise.
Caccini’s talent was respected and she worked hard to establish her career—a difficult task for a woman in that era. That being said, she still held the status of a servant in the court. Sadly, many of her works were lost following her lifetime.
Join me next time as we look at one of her better-known operas!