Alessandro Striggio (c. 1536-1592) was the son of a Mantuan nobleman. When he was about 18 years of age he joined the court of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici in Florence, where he later replaced the famous Francesco Corteccia as principal musician at the Florentine court.
He was richly paid and enjoyed a high diplomatic and musical status, while dividing his life between work for the de’ Medicis and his own family and court connection in Mantua.
He wrote 7 books of Madrigals and some important sacred pieces. Equally important is the occasional music he wrote for marriages in the de’ Medici family and their entertainment. All his surviving work is vocal, although many pieces have indications for instrumental doubling.
His son - with the same name - wrote the libretto for Monteverdi’s Orfeo.
Florentine records from the year 1561 mentioned the performance of ‘a song for 40 voices composed by Alessandro Striggio’, though a title of the work was not mentioned. It is obvious to suppose that this song was the motet Ecce beatam lucem. Another famous sacred work by Striggio is the Missa sopra Ecco sì beato giorno, also for 40 voices.
Recent studies suggest that Thomas Tallis was probably not the first who got the idea of writing a 40-voiced motet, but that he got the idea from Striggio. Striggio also served for the Ferrara court of the Este family in the 1580’s. Ferrara was the avant-garde centre of musical composition in those times.