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Guido Of Arezzo

GUIDO OF AREZZO (possibly to be identified with Guido de St Maur des Fosses), a musician who lived in the 11th century. He has by many been called the father of modern music, and a portrait of him in the refectory of the monastery of Avellana bears the inscription Bealus Guido, inventor musicae. Of his life little is known, and that little is chiefly derived from the dedicatory letters prefixed to two of his treatises and addressed respectively to Bishop Theodald (not Theobald, as Burney writes the name) of Arezzo, and Michael, a monk of Pomposa and Guide's pupil and friend. Occasional references to the celebrated musician in the works of his contemporaries are, however, by no means rare, and from these it may be conjectured with all but absolute certainty that Guido was born in the last decade of the 1cth century. The place of his birth is uncertain in spite of some evidence pointing to Arezzo; on the title-page of all his works he is styled Guido Aretinus, or simply Aretmus. At his first appearance in history Guido was a monk in the Benedictine monastery of Pomposa, and it was there that he taught singing and invented his educational method, by means of which, according to his own statement, a pupil might learn within five months what formerly it would have taken him ten years to acquire. Envy and jealousy, however, were his only reward, and by these he was compelled to leave his monastery " inde est, quod me vides prolixis finibus exulatum," as he says himself in the second of the letters above referred to. According to one account, he travelled as far as Bremen, called there by Archbishop Hermann in order to reform the musical service. But this statement has been doubted. Certain it is that not long after his flight from Pomposa Guido was livrng at Arezzo, and it was here that, about 1030, he received an invitation to Rome from Pope John XIV. He obeyed the summons, and the pope himself became his first and apparently one of his most proficient pupils. But in spite of his success Guide could not be induced to remain in Rome, the insalubrious air of which seems to have affected his health. In Rome he met again his former superior, the abbot of Pomposa, who seems to have repented of his conduct, and to have induced Guido to return to Pomposa; and here all authentic records of Guide's life cease. We only know that he died, on the 17th of May 1050, as prior of Avellana, a monastery of the Camaldulians; such at least is the statement of the chroniclers of that order. It ought, however, to be added that the Camaldulians claim the celebrated musician as wholly their own, and altogether deny his connexion with the Benedictines.

The documents discovered by Dom Germain Morin, the Belgian Benedictine, about 1888, point to the conclusion that Guido was a Frenchman and lived from his youth upwards in the Benedictine monastery of St Maur des Fosses where he invented his novel system of notation and taught the brothers to sing by it. In codex 763 of the British Museum the composer of the " Micrologus " and other works by Guido of Arezzo is always described as Guido de Sancto Mauro.

There is no doubt that Guide's method shows considerable progress in the evolution of modern notation. It was he who for the first time systematically used the lines of the staff, and the intervals or spatia between them. There is also little doubt that the names of the first six notes of the scale, ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, still in use among Romance nations, were introduced by Guido, although he seems to have used them in a relative rather than in an absolute sense. It is well known that these words are the first syllables of six lines of a hymn addressed to St John the Baptist, which may be given here:

Ut queant laxis resonare fibris Afira gestorum /amuli tuorum, Solve polluti labii reatum, Sancte Joannes.

In addition to this Guido is generally credited with the introduction of the F clef. But more important than all this, perhaps, is the thoroughly practical tone which Guido assumes in his theoretical writings, and which differs greatly from the clumsy scholasticism of his contemporaries and predecessors.

The most important of Guido's treatises, and those which are generally acknowledged to be authentic, are Micrologus Guidonis de disciplina artis musicae, dedicated to Bishop Theodald of Arezzo, and comprising a complete theory of music, in 20 chapters; Musicae Guidonis regulae rhythmicae in anliphonarii sui prologum prolatae, written in trochaic decasyllabics of anything but classical structure ; Aliae Guidon-is regulae de ignoto cantu, identidem in antiphonarii sui prologum prolatae; and the Epistola Guidonis Michaeli monacho de ignoto cantu, already referred to. These are published in the second volume of Gerbert's Scriptores ecclesiastici de musica sacra. A very important manuscript unknown to Gerbert (the Codex bibliothecae Uticensis, in the Paris library) contains, besides minor treatises, an antiphonarium and gradual undoubtedly belonging to Guido.

See also L. Angeloni, G. d' Arezzo (1811); Kiesewetter, Guido von Arezzo (1840); Kornmiiller, " Leben und Werken Guidos von Arezzo," in Habert's Jahrb. (1876); Antonio Brandi, G. Aretino (1882); G. B. Ristori, Biografia di Guido monaco d' Arezzo (1868).

.. GUIDO OF SIENA. The name of this Italian painter is of considerable interest in the history of art, on the ground that, if certain assumptions regarding him could be accepted as true, he would be entitled to share with Cimabue, or rather indeed to supersede him in, the honour of having given the first onward impulse to the art of painting. The case stands thus. In the church of S. Domenico in Siena is a large painting of the " Virgin and Child Enthroned," with six angels above, and in the Benedictine convent of the same city is a triangular pinnacle, once a portion of the same composition, representing the Saviour in benediction, with two angels; the entire work was originally a triptych, but is not so now. The principal section of this picture has a rhymed Latin inscription, giving the painter's name as Gu . . . o de Senis, with the date 1221: the genuineness of the inscription is not, however, free from doubt, and especially it is maintained that the date really reads as 1281. In the general treatment of the picture there is nothing to distinguish it particularly from other work of the same early period; but the heads of the Virgin and Child are indisputably very superior, in natural character and graceful dignity, to anything to be found anterior to Cimabue. The question therefore arises, Are these heads really the work of a man who painted in 1 221 ? Crowe and Cavalcaselle pronounce in the negative, concluding that the heads are repainted, and are, as they now stand, due to some artist of the 14th century, perhaps Ugolino da Siena; thus the claims of Cimabue would remain undisturbed and in their pristine vigour. Beyond this, little is known of Guido da Siena. There is in the Academy of Siena a picture assigned to him, a half-figure of the " Virgin and Child," with two angels, dating probably between 1250 and 1300; also in the church of S. Bernardino in the same city a Madonna dated 1262. Milanesi thinks that the work in S. Domenico is due to Guido Graziani, of whom no other record remains earlier than 1278, when he is mentioned as the painter of a banner. Guido da Siena appears always to have painted on panel, not in fresco on the wall. He has been termed, very dubiously, a pupil of Pietrolinp, and the master of " Diotisalvi," Mino da Turrita and Berlinghieri da Lucca.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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