Giovambattista (G. B.) Strozzi the Younger (1551–1634) occupied an important place in the literary life of Florence during the period when the Medici were consolidating their absolute rule over Tuscany. As a founder member and host of the Accademia degli Alterati he stands at the center of a web of poets and academicians who strove to bring about a closer cooperation between music, literature, and theater.
Strozzi is of interest to music historians for his work in three overlapping areas. First, he provided the texts for intermedi, maschere, and other music performed in Florence from 1579 until 1608, including music celebrating dynastic events of the Medici family. Second, a number of his poems were disseminated as the texts of published madrigals. Third, G. B. Strozzi is the author of poesia per musica, poems written specifically for musical setting or as contrafacta for existing musical pieces. In this area Strozzi was influenced by the reforming and moralizing tendencies of the Congregazione dell’Oratorio.
This article surveys Strozzi’s contribution in these three overlapping areas and also focuses on the poems Strozzi wrote in homage to Bianca Cappello, Francesco de’ Medici’s mistress and later his wife.