Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) ranks not only as a major composer of the Early Baroque, but also as one of the most important and influential figures in music history. His madrigals — secular songs usually on the theme of love and written for a small number of voices, often unaccompanied — are now the subject of much study, recording, and performance. Recognized today for their profound effect on the transition from the polyphonic style of the late Renaissance to the declamatory homophonic style of the Baroque, they are among the greatest musical legacies from the past. This convenient edition presenting both Books IV and V makes available for the first time 39 of Monteverdi's finest madrigals in one inexpensive paperbound volume. Originally published at the turn of the 17th century, they represent "the peak of the music that Monteverdi produced in the first half of his life" (New Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians) and the beginning of a new homophobic tradition that was to flower in the operas of the Baroque. Extremely moving, they express Monteverdi's revolutionary idea — seconda prattica — stressing the emotion of the words over the strict polyphonic structure of the music. Amateurs and professionals alike will enjoy the new English line-for-line translations of the poems facing the reliable Italian text printed in verse form. Mostly for five unaccompanied voices, the madrigals (20 in Book IV and 19 in Book V) have been carefully reproduced and enlarged from the epoch-making edition prepared by the Venetian composer Gian Francesco Malipiero in 1927. Included are a new preface, translations of Monteverdi's prefaces, identification of the poets, and historical discussion. Ideal for amateur get-togethers, professional performances, and vocal study and practice, this sturdy, affordable edition will be treasured by Monteverdi fans for years to come.