By Claudio Monteverdi
Composed in 1638
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) lived and worked in Italy during the transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque era in music. During his long life he became one of the most influential and even revolutionary musicians of his time, especially in the fields of operatic and vocal music.
He composed numerous madrigals, which were published in “books.” His Eighth Book of Madrigals was published in 1638 and contains many of his best-known works.
The madrigal “Hor che ‘l ciel” is one of his most beautiful. The text, taken from a sonnet by the 14th-century poet Petrarch, describes a lover, sleeping in the middle of the night, who wakes up tormented by his unrequited love. Masterfully complementing the text, Monteverdi evokes the full gamut of emotions in his music – the stillness of night, pain, war, anger, grief, and (finally) resignation.