Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine (Vespers for the Blessed Virgin) is a musical setting by Claudio Monteverdi of the evening vespers on Marian feasts, scored for soloists, choirs, and orchestra. It is an ambitious work in scope, style and scoring, and has a duration of around 90 minutes. Published in Venice with a dedication to Pope Paul V dated 1 September 1610 as Sanctissimae Virgini Missa senis vocibus ac Vesperae pluribus decantandae, cum nonnullis sacris concentibus, ad Sacella sive Principum Cubicula accommodata (“Mass for the Most Holy Virgin for six voices, and Vespers for several voices with some sacred songs, suitable for chapels and ducal chambers”), it is mercifully regularly shortened to Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610.
Monteverdi was born and spent the first part of his working life in Cremona before moving to Mantua (where he composed the Vespers) and finally attaining one of the top jobs in Italian renaissance music as Maestro di Capella at the Basilica di San Marco in Venice. He is most famous for his vocal music, notably his madrigals and the earliest surviving opera, Orfeo.
The opening “versicle” on euphonium should be declamatory, in a recitative style – i.e. in free tempo and not conducted. Ideally the player should stand for this.
Where practical, the soprano and 1st & 2nd solo cornets should stand to the left of the band, and the repiano and 3rd & 4th solo cornets to the right. If three percussionists are available, the third player should double the Percussion 2 part, and in that event it is often effcetive to have the 2nd and 3rd percussion players stand to the left and right of the band with the cornets.
Watch a preview video of the score below: