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Lesser-Known Composer of the Month: Francesca Caccini

Each month the Allen Music Library highlights an oft-forgotten composer (from the slightly off mainstream to the obscure) represented in our collections, along with short profiles of lesser-known performers, musical scholars, or other musicians.

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Francesca Caccini (1587-after 1641)

Wait, Who?

The daughter of composer and singer Giulio Caccini, Francesca was herself an accomplished performer, composer, and poet. Her mother, sister, half-brother, first husband, and daughter were also vocalists.

She spent most of her life in Tuscany, closely associated with the Medici family.  During an early trip to France in 1604–1605 she recieved her first independent job offer from Maria de Medici, Queen of France, but the duke of Tuscanay forbade her father from accepting on her behalf.  In 1607, on the orders of the duchess of Tuscany, she officially entered the service of the Medici family in Florence, where she worked as a singer and composer and provided instruction in voice, instrumental performance, and composition.

In 1627, after the death of her first husband, she moved to Lucca to marry an aristocrat, who died only three years later.  She spent a further three years in Lucca quarantined due to plague, but in 1633 she returned to Florence, now as a wealthy landowner, and reentered Medici service with her daughter from her first marriage.

She retired from service to the Medici family in 1641.  The exact date of her death is unknown, although guardianship of her son by her second marriage passed to his uncle in 1645.

Brief Bibliography

In the Library

Works in Brief

Although Francesca Caccini was a prolific composer, most of her music has been lost except for pieces that were published during her lifetime.  This notably includes her 1618 Il primo libro delle musiche, a collection of 32 solo songs and 4 soprano-bass duets setting a mix of secular and sacred texts, some of the latter in Latin.  It is one of the largest collections of early monody and may have been intended as an instructional volume.

The opera La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina is the only one of fifteen dramatic works known to have survived.  It was published in 1625, the same year it was written, and it was one of the earliest operas to be performed outside of Italy.


Associate Music Cataloger

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Laura Gayle Green
Allen Music Library
College of Music, FSU
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Tallahassee, FL 32306
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Subjects: Music

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