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That master, Giulio Strozzi, was a well-known Venetian intellectual who had young Barbara trained as a musician.Strozzi studied music with the singer and opera composer Francesco Cavalli. Nicolò Fontei dedicated two books of solo songs to her, the first when she was only sixteen years old.Barbara Strozzi (1619-77) What little is known about Barbara Strozzi (also known as Barbara Valle) suffices to make her an extremely intriguing figure.Perhaps the most outstanding female composer of the seventeenth century, Strozzi studied under respected musicians and published eight collections of her music.One of Strozzi’s published works, Opus 4, is missing.The rest are dedicated to various royal or noble patrons, including the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, Ferdinand II of Austria and Eleanora of Mantua, and Nicolò Sagredo (a future doge of Venice).
He had little to leave her, and she may have been motivated to publish partly by financial necessity.
A Mantuan nobleman, Antonio Bosso, described Strozzi as having wonderful breasts, a remark that he would not likely have made about a woman of higher social standing.
In addition, an anonymous satire commented upon her giving flowers to members of her father’s academy: “It is a fine thing to have distributed the flowers after having already surrendered the fruit.” This is undoubtedly a reference to Strozzi’s losing her virginity.
Some scholars have speculated that Strozzi supported herself as a courtesan.
Courtesans in Venice were renowned for their high level of education, which often included great musical ability.