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Monteverdi: I Blaze, I Burn

Can you guess this piece? Here's a hint: a hunk of burnin' love...

Monteverdi’s eighth book of madrigals, published in 1638, was not made up of just any old pieces thrown together. The collection has a distinct plan, divided into two halves which respectively focus on the contrasting states of war and love. While some of the works in the anthology, such as the large dramatic work “The Combat of Tancredi and Clorinda,” had been written substantially earlier, others, like this rollicking madrigal, were probably much more recent. Long before Monteverdi’s day, madrigals had made frequent use of temperature extremes as metaphors for emotional extremity. Poor, unfortunate lovers were freezing and burning all over the place. This hot-and-cold literary tradition is often traced back to 14th-century Italian poet Francesco Petrarch.

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