Guido d'Arezzo

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Guido d’Arrezo was one of classical music’s earliest yet most influential figures.  Born in either the year 991 or 992 (no one is quite sure exactly when), he was a Medieval Benedictine monk whose new approaches laid the foundations for pretty much all music composed after him.

  • If you've ever wondered who we have to thank for all those notes and dots on the pages of musical manuscript paper, you've found your man: Guido d'Arrezo, a medieval Italian academic, who invented the system of musical notation which we still use today.
  • His real name was Guido Aretinus, with the "d'Arezzo" coming from the fact that he was a monk in the Italian region of Arezzo, where he lived out the end of his life.
  • d'Arezzo was quite the innovator: in addition to inventing musical notation, he also challenged the status quo in various monasteries where he lived and practised as a monk.  In his writings, d'Arezzo chronicled his attempts to make changes to some of the approaches to liturgical singing – changes that led to him being evicted from the very monasteries he expressed his faith in.

Did You Know?
d'Arrezo has a competition named after him, which still exists to this day: Italy's International Guido d'Arrezo Polyphonic Contest.

Early Music Composers