The Missing Empowerment
by Elliot Thorpe
Giulio Caccini was a great Renaissance composer, influential in his methodology of monodies and basso continuo (All a bit highbrow for me, if I’m honest, even though I do like a good tune.) His greatest contribution to music was presenting to the world his Florence-born daughters, Francesca (in 1587) and Settimia (in 1591).
In that era, it was common for a career to be passed to each member of the family, making it natural for Francesca to have become a composer in her own right as well as a singer and poet. She taught early Baroque and regularly had her stage music specifically designed for comedies by the poet Michelangelo Buonarroti, the grandnephew of the famous artist. While most of her work has been lost in the mists of time, she was as influential as her father, noted as the first female composer of an opera.
Her younger sister, however, fared better in the industry as one of the first women to have a successful music career. Settimia, while also a composer, was more known for her singing prowess, performing for nobility with her own family as well as a soloist.
In societies where there was dominance from other quarters, it must have been challenging but the perseverance of the Caccini sisters paved the way for… Continue reading in the Spring 2020 issue of SEARCH.