This month, Clef Notes is looking at talented women composers throughout music history. Today, let’s introduce Barbara Strozzi (1619–1677) to the discussion. Adopted daughter of the librettist and poet Giulio Strozzi, Barbara grew up surrounded by intellectuals in Giulio’s Venetian group, the Academy of the Unknowns. Once he discovered that Barbara exhibited musical talent, he formed a subset of the group, the Academy of the Likeminded, in which he allowed Barbara to reside over, singing and suggesting topics for group discussion.
|Barbara Strozzi: Courtesy of wikimedia.org|
Barbara was declared a virtuoso by 15, and Giulio did his best to publicize her throughout his circles in Venice. He even wrote many texts himself, and then worked to get the accompanying music dedicated to her. He also gave her lessons from Francesco Cavalli, doing everything he could to cultivate her talent. Some scholars believe that, in addition to helping along Barbara’s musical ambitions, Giulio also planned for her to be a courtesan. She ended up having several children with the already-married Giovanni Paolo Vidman.
In addition to being a celebrated singer, Barbara Strozzi also composed. Next time, we’ll look at an example of her work.