a natural geographic unit bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on three sides and
the Alps to the north. Politically it was united under the ancient Roman Empire,
then for centuries it was a divided collection of separate city-states, many
dominated by foreign powers. It was eventually re-united in the Risorgimento
of the 1860s with Cavour in the north and Garibaldi in the south.
was the only form of church music in the early Middle
Ages, and this was passed
on by oral tradition Pope Gregory is reputed to have imposed order and
discipline to the plainsong, and so it is now usually called Gregorian Chant.
The beginnings of musical notation as we know it today were documented by Guido
D'Arezzo around 995 AD.
Italy became an important centre for European
music in the renaissance of the 16th century,
being pre-eminent in
church music, Monteverdi in opera. In the baroque, Vivaldi,
are renowned composers. Opera dominated Italian musical culture in the
and romantic periods, so many talented composers and instrument-makers sought
their fortunes in other parts of Europe. Clementi went to London, Boccherini
went to Madrid.
Puccini are pre-eminent in the field of
Italian 19th century opera, and Respighi broke with Italian traditions and wrote
richly orchestrated instrumental music, greatly influenced by the French