V. The Italian Seicento (17th Century)
The 'sound of Naples' in the seventeenth century was peculiarly that of sacred music. In fact, during the 17th century Naples boasted more than 500 churches and 30,000 clerics, monks and nuns out of a population of 400,000, and in this regard was second only to London and Paris. This surfeit of religious establishments meant employment for singers and players -- at that time, four of the city's orphanages specialized in teaching music to children, and these became the first conservatories in Europe. Notwithstanding the growing mass of young talented musical professionals, however, the transmission of the rules of composition and of musical study, following a peculiar local custom, remained the domain of a chain of maestri who span the whole of the 17th century: namely, the Sabinos, 'Padre Raimo', Salvatore, Veneziano, Caresana, Greco, Fago and most of all, the greatest of the 17th century maestri, Francesco Provenzale.