Strozzi, Barbara

Barbara Strozzi was baptized in 1619 in the church of Santa Sofia in Cannaregio in the neighbourhood of Venice, Italy. She was adopted by poet and librettist Giulio Strozzi. Most likely she was the illegitimate daughter of Giulio Strozzi and his long-term servant and heir Isabella Garzoni.
Father Giulio encouraged his daughter’s musical talent. He even created an academy in which Barbara’s talent could be developed and displayed publicly.
She became a most appreciated vocal talent, but she appeared to have great compositional skills as well. Giulio arranged her place as a student with composer Francesco Cavalli.
Rumour has is that she may have been a courtesan, but this can not be proved, and is probably jealous slander by her male contemporary colleagues. In fact this can be interpreted as a compliment. If her compositions were not worth noticing, nobody would have cared about her lifestyle. All facts or rumours about her private life seem to be uncertain and fictitious, and thus not worth to be mentioned here.
Barbara Strozzi was a rather prolific composer. She wrote more cantatas for 1 to 3 voices, e.g. Diporti di Euterpe ovvero Cantate e ariette a voce sola (1659). She wrote only one volume of sacred music. Her compositions are firmly rooted in the seconda prattica, existing since half a century in Italy: the emphasis on the lyrics, and the music following the meaning of the words.
Cees Wagemakers