Orpheus in the Marketplace: Jacopo Peri and the Economy of Late Renaissance Florence

Orpheus in the Marketplace: Jacopo Peri and the Economy of Late Renaissance Florence


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The Florentine musician Jacopo Peri (1561-1633) is known as the composer of the first operas—they include the earliest to survive complete, Euridice (1600), in which Peri sang the role of Orpheus. A large collection of recently discovered account books belonging to him and his family allows for a greater exploration of Peri's professional and personal life. Richard Goldthwaite, an economic historian, and Tim Carter, a musicologist, have done much more, however, than write a biography: their investigation exposes the remarkable value of such financial documents as a primary source for an entire period.

This record of Peri's wide-ranging investments and activities in the marketplace enables the first detailed account of the Florentine economy in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and also opens a completely new perspective on one of Europe's principal centers of capitalism. His economic circumstances reflect continuities and transformations in Florentine society, and the strategies for negotiating them, under the Medici grand dukes. At the same time they allow a reevaluation of Peri the singer and composer that elucidates the cultural life of a major artistic center even in changing times, providing a quite different view of what it meant to be a musician in late Renaissance Italy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674724648
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 11/04/2013
Series: I Tatti Studies in Italian Renaissance History , #10
Pages: 496
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Tim Carter is David G. Frey Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Richard A. Goldthwaite is Professor Emeritus of History at Johns Hopkins University.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables vii

Preface ix

A Note on Money xi

A Note on Transcriptions xiii

Introduction 1

The story so far 2

Sources and documents 9

The Peri Archive 16

1 The Social World 24

The early years before marriage 28

The family 42

Wives; Children (until their father's death)

Social status 80

Networks 96

Finding godparents

A banker patron (Giovambattista Michelozzi)

A musical patron (Jacopo Corsi)

2 The Economic World 122

The culture of the marketplace 123



Investments and employment 138

Cloth industries

Bills of exchange


Government securities

Real estate

Income and shifting investment priorities 191

3 The Musical World 205

Peri's early career 207

Music at the Medici court 219

The Medici musical establishment

Court musical entertainments

Peri as court musician 253

Peri as singing teacher 275

Altri favori e carezze 281

Peri's music 291

4 Last Years, Death, and the End of the Line 311

A final reckoning 314

A widow and her sons 328

Conclusion 347

The economic scene ca. 1600 349

The musical scene ca. 1600 358

Behind the scenes 366


A Chronology 375

B Letters from Jacopo Peri 387

C Catalogue of Peri's musical works 427

D Four poems concerning Jacopo Peri 437

Works Cited 443

Index 453

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