Monteverdi “Discovery”

1

April
2011

Writer Jessica Duchen passes on the latest discovery by Dutch musicologist Pieter van der Oeugewalt, who came to the conclusion that Claudio Monteverdi invented the leitmotif. Van der Oeugewalt explains:

Studying his opera L’Incoronazione di Poppea of 1642-3, I became fascinated by the presence of a recurring figure, a simple pattern consisting of a falling fourth followed by a one-tone dip below and return to this note. A close examination of the libretto reveals that this theme – as simple, skeletal and strong as any motif by Wagner – is associated on every recurrence with Poppea’s greed and unstoppable ambition. Having checked and double-checked this association, I find it to be consistent and unfailingly so.

The discovery would be nothing short of monumental if it hadn’t been announced on April Fools’ Day.

Read more: Monteverdi invented the “leitmotif” (Jessica Duchen Classical Music Blog)

A 19th-century etching of Claudio Monteverdi by Barberis (image: Wikipedia)

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