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Vincenzo Galilei

ca. 1520-1591

Vincenzo Galilei was born around 1520 in Santa Maria a Monte in the Arno Valley. He was a lutanist and a music theorist.

After studying in Venice under the guidance of Gioseffo Zarlino (1517-1590), he returned to Pisa and in 1562 married the young Giulia Ammannati (1538-1620). The children born from their marriage were Galileo (1564), Benedetto (?), Virginia (1573), Anna (?), Michelangelo (1575), Livia (1578) and perhaps a youngest daughter named Lena.

In 1574 the Galilei family moved to Florence, where Vincenzo, who had already established himself there a few years earlier, was able to continue his music studies thanks mainly to the help of Count Giovanni Bardi (1534-1612). Bardi had sponsored the Camerata Fiorentina (or more fittingly de' Bardi), whose performances had established the superiority of monodic song to polyphony and contributed to the shift in taste that would lead to the birth of lyric opera.

Vincenzo expounded his music theories mainly in the following works: Fronimo. Dialogo nel quale si contengono le vere et necessarie regole del intavolare la musica nel liuto [Fronimo. A dialogue which contains the true and necessary rules for the execution of lute music] (Venice, 1568); Dialogo di Vincentio Galilei della musica antica et della moderna [A dialogue by Vincentio Galilei concerning ancient and modern music] (Florence, 1581); Discorso di Vincentio Galilei intorno alle opere di Gioseffo Zarlino et altri importanti particolari attenenti alla musica [Discourse by Vincentio Galieli concerning the works of Gioseffo Zarlino] (Florence, 1589).