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Little is known about his early life, but he was born in Italy, the son of the carpenter Michelangelo Caccini; he was the older brother of the Florentine sculptor Giovanni Caccini. In Rome he studied the lute, the viol and the harp, and began to acquire a reputation as a singer. In the 1560s, Francesco de' Medici, Grand Duke of Florence, was so impressed with his talent that he took the young Caccini to Florence for further study.

Caccini was a member of the Florentine Camerata, together with Emilio de' Cavalieri, and worked on the early development of stile recitativo. Cavalieri was the first to employ the new recitative style, trying his creative hand at a few pastoral scenes. This newly created style of monody proved to be popular not only in Florence, but elsewhere in Italy.

Caccini's character seems to have been less than perfectly honorable, as he was frequently motivated by envy and jealousy, not only in his professional life but for personal advancement with the Medici. In 1600 Cavalieri produced Euridice, one of the first operas, by Jacopo Peri (libretto by Ottavio Rinuccini); this was part of an elaborate set of festivities for the wedding of Henry IV of France and Maria de' Medici. Unfortunately for Cavalieri, he was not given control of the main event, the production of Il rapimento di Cefalo-his rival Giulio Caccini took over from him-and he left Florence in anger, never to return. Nobody is quite sure what scheming went on. However, we do know that he rushed his own opera Euridice into print before Peri's opera on the same subject could be published, while simultaneously ordering his group of singers to have nothing to do with Peri's production. Caccini's achievement was to create a type of direct musical expression, as easily understood as speech, which later developed into the operatic recitative, and which influenced numerous other stylistic and textural elements in Baroque music.

Caccini's most influential work was a collection of monodies and songs for solo voice and basso continuo, published in 1602, called Le nuove musiche. Although it is often considered the first published collection of monodies, it was actually preceded by the collection by Domenico Melli. The collection was Caccini's attempt to describe himself as the inventor and codifier of monody and basso continuo. Caccini is careful to maintain the date 1601 in his dedication of the collection Moreover, he explicitly positions himself as the inventor of the style when describing it in the introduction.

He was predominantly a composer of monody and solo song accompanied by a chordal instrument (he himself played harp), and it is in this capacity that he acquired his immense fame. He published two collections of songs and solo madrigals, both titled Le nuove musiche, in 1602 and 1614 (the latter as Nuove musiche e nuova maniera di scriverle). Most of the madrigals are through-composed and contain little repetition; some of the songs, however, are strophic. Among the most famous and widely disseminated of these is the madrigal Amarilli, mia bella.


After 1605, Caccini was less influential, though he continued to take part in composition and performance of sacred polychoral music. He died in Florence.
 

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This piece has a lovely back story. It was actually written by Vladimir Vavilov a guitarist, lutenist and composer. He routinely ascribed his own works to other composers, usually of the Renaissance or Baroque eras. Vavilov himself published and recorded it in 1970 on the Melodiya label with the ascription "Anonymous". It is believed that organist Mark Shakhin, one of the performers on the "Melodiya" LP, first ascribed the work to Giulio Caccini after Vavilov's death, and gave the "newly-discovered scores" to other musicians. See the wiki entry on the piece. Any time it comes up on You Tube you usually get a comment explain that it's not Caccini but Vasilov.
 
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Caccini also produced an important treatise on singing styles in the introduction to his Le nuove musiche. It was very influential in the development of Italian opera aria and arioso and you can detect this style right up until the time of Vivaldi.

And the singer in that first excerpt, Amarilli by Caccini, has a lovely voice with just the right warmth and vibrato, unlike the ice-cold, steely voice of Emma Kirkby sans vibrato - who is often the one we most associate with this repertoire.
 

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Caccini also produced an important treatise on singing styles in the introduction to his Le nuove musiche. It was very influential in the development of Italian opera aria and arioso and you can detect this style right up until the time of Vivaldi.

And the singer in that first excerpt, Amarilli by Caccini, has a lovely voice with just the right warmth and vibrato, unlike the ice-cold, steely voice of Emma Kirkby sans vibrato - who is often the one we most associate with this repertoire.
This is a nice version. My favourite though is sung by Gigli. It's wonderful. Second favourite is one by Andreas Scholl.

I love Kirkby's voice particularly when she is singing Dowland.
 
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