Timeline of Historical Voice Pedagogy

An overview of the history of voice teaching and training from the 1200s to the present day.


Important people in Voice Pedagogy History.

Pope Gregory the Great

540 - 604

Throughout the Middle Ages he was known as “the Father of Christian Worship” because of his exceptional efforts in revising the Roman worship of his day.

Helped create the Scuola Cantorum.

He is also known as St. Gregory the Dialogist in Eastern Orthodoxy because of his Dialogues. For this reason, English translations of Orthodox texts will sometimes list him as "Gregory Dialogus". He was the first of the popes to come from a monastic background. Gregory is a Doctor of the Church and one of the Latin Fathers. He is considered a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, and some Lutheran churches. Immediately after his death, Gregory was canonized by popular acclaim. The Protestant reformer John Calvin admired Gregory and declared in his Institutes that Gregory was the last good pope. He is the patron saint of musicians, singers, students, and teachers.

Jerome de Moravie

1251 - 1271

Medieval music theorist. He was a Dominican friar. His origin is unknown, but he is believed to have worked in Paris at the Dominican convent on the Rue Saint-Jacques. He most likely came from the Dominican convent in Elgin, Moray, although based on some renderings of his name he may have come from the Dominican community in Moravia.

Used the terms "Vox integra" and "Vox ficta" to describe the chest and falsetto registers of the voice.

He is known for only one extant treatise "Tractatus de Musica" which was an encyclopedic treatment of the most important aspects of music in the Middle Ages: ars musica, mensural polyphony, mathematical treatments of music, and ecclesiastical chant. He copied large chunks of earlier music treatises. These included Boethius' De institutione musica and the treatises of Johannes Cotto, Johannes de Garlandia, Franco of Cologne and Petrus de Picardia. The treatise was probably compiled after 1272, and the only extant manuscript was probably copied before 1304. The original owner of this manuscript was Pierre de Limoges, and it was given to the Sorbonne when he died. Anonymous IV was most likely aware of this manuscript when he wrote.

Marchetto da Padova

1274 - 1326

Italian music theorist and composer of the late medieval era. His innovations in notation of time-values were fundamental to the music of the Italian ars nova, as was his work on defining the modes and refining tuning. In addition, he was the first music theorist to discuss chromaticism.

He coined the phrases "Vox integra" for natural, or chest voice, and "vox ficta" for false, or falsetto voice.

Giulio Caccini

October 8, 1551 - December 10, 1618

Italian composer, teacher, singer, instrumentalist and writer of the very late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. He was one of the founders of the genre of opera, and one of the single most influential creators of the new Baroque style. He was also the father of the composer Francesca Caccini.

Pier Francesco Tosi

1653 - 1732

Castrato singer, composer, and writer on music. His Opinoni de' cantori antichi e moderni... was the first full-length treatise on singing and provides a unique glimpse into the technical and social aspects of Baroque vocal music.

Two register theory of voice
voce di petto
voce di testa

Placed the castrato passaggio at A4.

Believed in uniting the registers together, otherwise the voice would be limited in range.

Nicola Porpora

August 17, 1686 - March 3, 1768

Italian composer of Baroque operas (see opera seria) and teacher of singing, whose most famous singing student was the castrato Farinelli. Other students included composers Matteo Capranica and Joseph Haydn.

Farinelli, aka Carlo Broschi

January 24, 1705 - September 16, 1782

Farinelli was the stage name of Carlo Maria Michelangelo Nicola Broschi (pronounced [ˈkarlo ˈbrɔski]), celebrated Italian castrato singer of the 18th century and one of the greatest singers in the history of opera.

Giovanni Battista Mancini

January 1, 1714 - January 4, 1800

Italian soprano castrato, voice teacher, and author of books on singing.

Mancini was born at Ascoli Piceno, Italy. He studied singing in Naples with Leonardo Leo and in Bologna with Antonio Bernacchi. He also studied composition and counterpoint there with Giovanni Battista Martini.

He began his singing career when he was 16, appearing in both Italy and Germany. His even greater success as a teacher led to an invitation in 1757 by Empress Maria Theresia of Austria to become "k. k. Cammer-Musicus" and thereby teach her daughters singing. In 1774 in Vienna he published an important book on singing Pensieri, e riflessioni pratiche sopra il canto figurato. His views and publications brought him into conflict with another voice teacher, Vincenzo Manfredini. He remained in Vienna and died there as "Retired Singing Master", leaving behind a considerable fortune.

Vincenzo Manfredini

October 22, 1737 - August 16, 1799

Italian composer, harpsichordist and a music theorist.

Manfredini was born in Pistoia, near Florence.

He studied music with his father, Francesco Onofrio Manfredini. Then he studied with Perti in Bologna and Fioroni in Milan. In 1758 his older brother Giuseppe, a castrato, went to Moscow with Locatelli's opera troupe, and Vincenzo went with him, possibly as one of the troupe. Moving to St. Petersburg, he became maestro di cappella to Peter Fedorovich, who on becoming Emperor in 1762 made him maestro of the court's Italian opera company. Confirmed in this post by Catherine II, he composed operas and occasional works, but on Galuppi's arrival in 1765 he was relegated to composing the ballets performed with Galuppi's operas and to serving as harpsichord teacher to Pavel Petrovich, heir to the throne.

In 1769 he returned with a pension to Bologna. After two attempts at opera, Manfredini devoted himself mainly to writing and teaching, also publishing a set of symphonies (1776) and string quartets (?1781).

When Pavel Petrovich became Emperor in 1796, he invited his former teacher, who arrived in September 1798, but took up no post and died in St. Petersburg the next year. Manfredini's theoretical research Regole armoniche, o sieno precetti ragionevoli per apprendere la musica (Venice, 1775) has two parts, an introduction to the elements of music and to keyboard accompaniment. It was translated into Russian by Stepan Degtyaryov, a Russian composer, conductor and singer.

The observations of Manfredini on the proper method of teaching singing aroused vigorous opposition from Giovanni Battista Mancini. The second edition (Venice, 1797) was much revised and enlarged with new sections on singing and counterpoint. Manfredini composed numerous operas, as well as ballets, cantatas, sacred music (including a requiem), symphonies, string quartets, concertos, and chamber works.

Bernardo Mengozzi

1758 - 1800

Distinguished both as a singer and a composer, was born in 1758 at Florence, where he first studied music. He afterwards had instruction at Venice from Pas- quale Potenza, cantor of St. Mark's. In Lent of 1 785, Lord Mount-Edgcumbe found him singing in oratorio at Naples, with Signora Benini, whom he soon afterwards married. After singing together at several Italian theatres, the two came to London in 1 786, but our climate was very ill- suited to Mengozzi, whose voice, a good tenor, but wanting in power, suffered -much and perma- nently from its rigour. He was too ill, indeed, to appear with Benini in the first opera in which she sang here, the ' Giannina e Bernardone ' of Cimarosa, with new songs by Cherubini. He played, however, the principal part in ' II Tutor Burlato ' of Paisiello, and showed himself ' a good musician, with a good style of singing, but still too feeble to excite any other sensation in the audience than pity for the state of his health ' (Burney). In March, Handel's ' Giulio Cesare ' was revived, with additions from others of his works; and in this pasticcio (1787) Mengozzi took part. But he did not do himself justice, and was soon superseded by Morelli, as his wife was by la Storace.

Girolamo Crescentini

February 2, 1762 - April 24, 1846

Singing Teacher and Composer.

Crescentini led castrati’s last charge: he was called, for his singing’s prodigies, the “Italian Orpheus”, and for his great, theoretical too, competence in this art, the “Nestor of the musici". Decidedly unimposing on the stage (like Pacchiarotti), he was endowed with a clear, pliant and pure voice which won him the admiration of such personages as Alfred de Vigny, who, in his story “La vie e la mort du Capitaine Renaud ou La canne de jonc”, wrote of “a seraph’s voice which sprang from an emaciated and wrinkled face”, or as the seventeen-year-old Arthur Schopenhauer who, in his turn, entered in his diary a voice that was “beautiful in a supernatural way” and provided with a full and sweet timbre. Crescentini, who was not an exceedingly wide-ranged sopranista, always shunned the rush towards the highest notes which the C7 whistled by his contemporary La Bastardella was the living representation of, and shunned as well eagerness for immoderate singing ornamentation in all the cases where it was not actually necessary to the expression of the shade of feeling, of that quantum of “infinitely small which [formed] the perfection of [Crescentini’s] singing” in Romeo’s Prayer; “an infinitely small which, on the other end, [used to change] according to the singer’s voice, to the standard of illusion and of enthusiasm he was animated by”, and which would make any execution unfailingly different from the preceding one and from the following, too.

As the champion of the true “cantar che nell’anima si sente” Crescentini headed the revenge of the belcanto of yore on the late 18th century’s singing fashion and contributed, together with Pacchiarotti, Grassini, Luísa Todi de Agujar, the tenor Giacomo David, and few others, to lay the bases for the splendours of Rossini grand finale of two centuries’ history of operatic singing.

Something of his concept of singing, as he had expressed it in the mentioned “Esercizi per la vocalizzazione”, is likely to have passed as well in the vocal style of Bellini operas.

Manuel Garcia, II

March 17, 1805 - July 1, 1906

Spanish singer, music educator, and vocal pedagogue.

Francesco Lamperti

March 11, 1811 - May 1, 1892

Italian Singing Teacher.

Guida teorico-pratica-elementare per lo studio del canto. Milan: Ricordi, 1864.
Studi di bravura per soprano. Translated as Studies in bravura singing for the soprano voice. New York: 1875.
Esercizi giornalieri per soprano o mezzo-soprano
L'arte del canto. Milan: Ricordi, 1883.
Osservationi e cosiglin sul trillo
A Treatise on the Art of Singing. Translated by J. C. Griffith. London: Ricordi, 1877. Revised edition: New York: Edward Schuberth, 1890. (There also maybe an edition by G. Schirmer).

Mathilde Marchesi

March 24, 1821 - November 17, 1913

German mezzo-soprano, a renowned teacher of singing, and a proponent of the bel canto vocal method.

Marchesi was clearly committed to the bel canto style of singing. Despite this, she did not particularly identify herself as a bel canto teacher. She asserted that there were only two styles of singing: "the good...and the bad" and argued that a properly trained vocalist could sing the old bel canto style just as easily as the then newer, more dramatic style.

She was generally an advocate of a naturalistic style of singing: she called for a fairly instinctive method of breathing and argued against the "smiling" mouth position that many teachers of her day preferred. She was particularly concerned with vocal registration, calling it "the Alpha and Omega of the formation and development of the female voice, the touchstone of all singing methods, old and new." She also repeatedly expressed disdain for the teachers of her day who offered methods that they asserted would fully develop the voice in only a year or two. Instead, she felt that vocal training was best approached at a slow and deliberate pace.

Two of the most distinctive features of her teachings were her "analytical method" and her insistence on very short practice times for beginners. Her "analytical method" placed great importance on intellectually understanding both the technical and the aesthetic nature of everything sung, from grand arias to simple vocal exercises. She argued that rote practice without understanding was ultimately harmful to the artistic use of the voice. Most distinctively, though, she insisted on very short practice times for beginners, as little as five minutes at a stretch three or four times a day for absolute beginners. Of course, as the voice matured those times could and should be expanded.

Julius Stockhausen

1826 - 1906

German singer and singing master.

Stockhausen's parents, Franz Stockhausen Sr. (1792–1868), harpist and composer, and Margarethe Stockhausen née Schmuck, soprano, were musicians of some ability who recognized his talent and encouraged his development.
Before he had reached his 20th year he was an excellent performer on the piano, organ, violin, and cello. In 1845 he entered the Conservatoire de Paris, where he studied piano with Charles Hallé and Camille-Marie Stamaty and singing with Manuel García. In 1849 he continued his studies with Garcia in London. He quickly won fame as a remarkable concert singer (baritone). From 1862 to 1869 he resided in Hamburg as conductor of the Philharmonic Society and Singakademie.
He spent the next five years in Stuttgart as Kammersänger to the King of Württemberg, then he became conductor of Stern's Gesangverein at Berlin, where he remained until 1878, being then called to Hoch Conservatory at Frankfurt as professor of singing. Differences with Joachim Raff, the director, led to his resignation the following year and the establishment of his own school, which immediately became world famous.
After Raff's death (1882), Stockhausen returned to the conservatory, but continued his own school. Students of Stockhausen included Clarence Whitehill, Karl Perron, Anton Sistermans, Max Friedlaender, Jenny Hahn, Johan Messchaert (also: Johannes Martinus Messchaert), Hermine Spies, Horatio Connell and Hugo Goldschmidt. He wrote an excellent Gesangsmethode ("Singing Method") in 1884, which was translated into English by his pupil Sophie Löwe. His brother Franz Stockhausen Jr. was an eminent choral conductor who studied with Ignaz Moscheles. His daughter, Julia Wirth, née Stockhausen (1886–1964), married the famous German violinist Emanuel Wirth. She was the author of Stockhausen's biography.

Giovanni Battista Lamperti

June 24, 1839 - March 18, 1910

Italian singing teacher and son of the singing teacher Francesco Lamperti. He is the author of The Technics of Bel Canto (1905) and source for Vocal Wisdom: Maxims of Giovanni Battista Lamperti (1931).

William Shakespeare

1849 - 1931

Tenor, pedagogue, and composer.

William Shakespeare was born in England on 16 June 1849. He studied in London, at the Royal Academy of Music with William Sterndale Bennett. Winning the Mendelssohn Scholarship in 1871, he travelled to Leipzig to study with composer, pianist, conductor, and pedagogue Carl Reinecke, but soon left Leipzig for Milan, to study under the guidance of the singing teacher Francesco Lamperti. He appeared in England once again as a tenor in 1875. In 1878, he was appointed as a professor of singing at the Royal Academy of Music. He died in 1931.

Henry Holbrook Curtis

December 15, 1856 - May 14, 1920

American ENT. Longtime voice therapist at the Metropolitan Opera.

Fiercest opponent of Manuel Garcia II, against the coup de glotte.

Edgar Herbert Caesari

1884 - 1969

English singer and voice teacher.

Oren Brown

1909 - 2004

American vocal pedagogist and voice teacher.

Born in Somerville, Massachusetts, Brown attended Boston University where he earned a bachelors of music with an emphasis in vocal performance and a masters degree in music composition. In 1932 he began his long career as a voice teacher which would last up until his death 72 years later. He notably served as a faculty member of the Mannes College of Music during the late 1940s and was on the voice faculty at the Juilliard School from 1972 through 1991. Many of his students have had successful singing careers, including John Aler, Cecilia, Eva Johansson, James King, Ann Monoyios, and Bo Skovhus among many others.

In 1952 Brown joined the staff of the Washington University School of Medicine, serving as a lecturer in voice therapy and otolaryngology up through 1968. While there he collaborated with medical personnel to develop an interdisciplinary approaches to voice training; making him one of the first vocal pedagogists, along with William Vennard and Ralph Appelman, to introduce contemporary scientific research in the areas of human anatomy and physiology into the study of singing. In addition to contributing articles to a number of music journals, he also is the author of Discover Your Voice: How to Develop Healthy Voice Habits (1996), which is a well known and highly respected vocal training text.

Brown died in Northampton, Massachusetts at the age of 95.

William Vennard

1909 - 1971

American Pedagogue.

was a famous American vocal pedagogist who devoted his life to researching the human voice and its use in singing. He was one of the driving forces behind a major shift within the field of vocal pedagogy during the middle of the 20th century. Along with a few other American singing teachers, such as Ralph Appelman at Indiana University, Vennard introduced contemporary scientific research in the areas of human anatomy and physiology into the study of singing. This shift in approach led to the rejection of many of the beliefs and practices held since the bel canto era, most particularly in the areas of vocal registration and vocal resonation. Vennard was renowned as an excellent teacher whose written works have influenced generations of singers, vocal pedagogues and voice scientists. He taught many successful singers including acclaimed mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, who studied under him at the University of Southern California.

Cornelius Reid

1911 - 2008

Vocal pedagogue in New York City, specialist in the bel canto technique, and author of books on bel canto.

Reid's teachings were based on the books of famous voice teachers of the 17th to the 19th centuries. They included Giulio Caccini, Pier Francesco Tosi, Giovanni Battista Mancini, Domenico Corri, Francesco Lamperti, Giovanni Battista Lamperti, Manuel Patricio Rodríguez García, Isaac Nathan and Julius Stockhausen.

In the festschrift Stephen F. Austin honors Cornelius Reid and those that have studied with him: "Only rarely does one find a voice teacher employing a method in which the registers of the voice are being used in the way that made singing in the bel canto era the greatest that mankind has known. If such a teacher is discovered, it is most likely that he or she has been influenced, directly or indirectly, by one man. Cornelius Reid has made a singular contribution to vocal pedagogy because he has kept the ancient traditions of teaching as established and tested in the fire of the eighteenth-century opera houses alive in the twentieth century—and now the twenty-first century."

A summary of Reid's pedagogy appeared in the Journal of Singing: "Reid's approach rests upon the two register theory and a belief that the only factors that can exert voluntary control upon the involuntary laryngeal muscles are pitch, intensity and vowel. Exercises employing various combinations of these three controls, in combination with the use of "functional listening"—a careful analysis of the registrational balances—will result in a free technique."

Jo Estill

1921 - 2010

American singer, singing voice specialist, and voice researcher. Estill is best known for her research and the development of Estill Voice Training, a programme for developing vocal skills based on deconstructing the process of vocal production into control of specific structures in the vocal mechanism

Richard Miller

1926 - 2009

Professor of singing at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and the author of numerous books on singing technique and vocal pedagogy. He also sang recitals, oratorios, and numerous roles as a lyric tenor with major opera companies in Europe and America.

Books Written

Important Texts on Singing in Pedagogical History.

Discourse on the voice - Maffei


Le nuove musiche - Caccini


Le nuove musiche is a collection of monodies and songs for solo voice and basso continuo by the composer Giulio Caccini, published in Florence in July 1602. It is one of the earliest and most significant examples of music written in the early baroque style of the seconda pratica. It contains 12 madrigals and 10 arias.

It is known for its examination of two registers: the chest, or "voce piena e naturale" and Falsetto.

The volume was dedicated to Lorenzo Salviati and is dated February 1601; it was to be published early in 1602 but the printer, Giulio Marescotti, died before publication was completed, and its release was delayed until July 1602.

The introduction to this volume is probably the most clearly written description of the purpose, intent and correct performance of monody from the time. It includes musical examples of ornaments—for example, how a specific passage can be ornamented in several different ways, according to the precise emotion that the singer wishes to convey. Caccini expressed disappointment at inappropriate ornamentation by the singers of his day. The preface also includes effusive praise for the style which he himself invented, and amusing disdain for the work of more conservative composers of the period.

An abridged English translation of Le nuove musiche's preface was printed in John Playford's Introduction to the Skill of Music from 1664 to 1694. Le nuove musiche's success inspired many similar collections in the seventeenth century, and it is regularly anthologized in modern collections.

Observations on the Florid Song - Tosi


Pensieri e riflessioni pratiche - Mancini


Isaac Nathan

1790 - 1864

Anglo-Australian composer, musicologist, journalist and self-publicist, who ended an eventful career by becoming the "father of Australian music"

Regole armoniche - Manfredini


Singer's Preceptor


Misurgia Vocalis - Nathan


École de Garcia: Traité


Mémoire sur une novelle espèce de voix chantée - Diday/Pétrequin


Mémoire sur la voix humaine - Garcia


Nouvelles recherces sur la phonation - Bataille


Guida teorico-pratica-elementare per lo studio del canto. - F. Lamperti


La voix et le chant - Faure


The Voice in Singing - Seiler


Bel Canto - M. Marchesi



The Philosophy of Voice - Lunn


The Mechanism of the Human Voice - Behnke


L'arte del canto. F. Lamperti


A Method of Singing - Stockhausen


Hints on Singing - Garcia


Voice Building and Tone Placing - Curtis


The Art of Singing - Shakespeare


Voice, Song, and Speech - Behnke and Browne


The Technics of Bel Canto -G.B. Lamperti


The Art of the Singer - Henderson


Das Stauprinzip und die Lehre - Armin


Systematic Voice Training - Clippinger


Singer's Pilgrimage - B. Marchesi


The Bel Canto, with ref. to Mozart - Klein


Vocal Wisdom: Maxims - GB Lamperti


Science and Sensation of Vocal Tone - Caesari


Your Voice: Applied Science of Vocal Art - Stanley


Bel canto: Principles and Practices - Reid


Foundations of Singing - Kelsey


Voice of the Mind - Caesari


Tradition and Gigli - Caesari


Coffin's Sounds of Singing - Coffin


The Free Voice - Reid


Elements of Vocal Science - Bacon


Singing: The Mechanism and the Technique - Vennard


The Science of Vocal Pedagogy - Appelman


Alchemy of Voice


Vocal Truth - Caesari


Voice: Psyche and Soma - Reid


National Schools of Singing - Miller


Coffin's Overtones of Bel Canto - Coffin


The Structure of Singing - Miller


Essays on the Nature of Singing - Reid


Training Tenor Voices - Miller


Discover Your Voice - Brown


On the Art of Singing - Miller


Training Soprano Voices - Miller


Solutions for Singers - Miller


Your voice, an inside view - McCoy


Securing Baritone, Bass-Baritone, and Bass Voices - Miller