Giacomo Carissimi (baptized April 18, 1605 – January 12, 1674) was an Italian composer.
He is one of the most celebrated masters of the early Baroque or, more accurately, the Roman School of music.
The great achievements generally ascribed to Carissimi are the further development of the recitative, introduced by Monteverdi, which is highly important to the history of dramatic music; the further development of the chamber cantata, by which Carissimi superseded the concertato madrigals which had themselves replaced the madrigals of the late Renaissance; and the development of the oratorio, of which he was the first significant composer.
Carissimi’s position in the history of church, vocal and chamber music is somewhat similar to that of Francesco Cavalli in the history of opera. While Luigi Rossi was his predecessor in developing the chamber cantata, Carissimi was the composer who first made this form the vehicle for the most intellectual style of chamber music, a function which it continued to perform until the death of Alessandro Scarlatti, Emanuele d’Astorga and Benedetto Marcello.
Carissimi is also noted as one of the first composers of oratorios, with Jephte as probably his best known work, along with Jonas. These works and others are important for establishing the form of oratorio unaccompanied by dramatic action, which maintained its hold for 200 years.