Carlo Monza was one of the most prominent and popular composers in Milan in the second half of the eighteenth century. Although his birthdate is projected as having been circa 1735 and he is believed to have been native to Milan, little is known of his activities before his first opera, Olimpiade, was performed at the Regio Ducale in Milan in 1758. Monza probably studied with Giovanni Battista Sammartini, as Monza succeeded Sammartini to two posts; the first in 1768 when Monza took over Sammartini's position as organist in the court of the Duke of Milan, and the second as the ducal maestro di capella when Sammartini died in 1775. By this time, Monza was already established as a major force in Milanese opera, and Burney named him, in 1770, as one of the two best composers for the Milanese stage then active. In 1778, he obtained the post of maestro di capella at Milan Cathedral and, aside from three works staged in the mid-1780s, ended his operatic career in favor of the pursuit of sacred music; there, Burney found room to praise Monza's efforts as well. In the 1780s, Monza published three sets of instrumental music, including a significant volume of six string quartets published as his "Opus 2." Monza died in Milan near the end of 1801 at about the age of 66.
While no one argues against the quality of Monza's music, little of it remains investigated. Most of his 20 operas survive; a highly unusual attribute for an eighteenth century opera composer. While a fair amount of his sacred music is known lost, more than 200 such works exist in the archives of Milan Cathedral, in addition to other single items found elsewhere. While Monza's output in terms of instrumental music is far smaller, it includes several symphonies or overtures; chamber works in addition to the published items mentioned above and keyboard music. In the early 2000s, conductor Fabio Biondi began to champion Monza's symphony La tempesta di mar, which was originally the overture to his opera Iphégenia in Tauride (1784); it betrays striking dramatic qualities associated with eighteenth century Stürm und Drang. Carlo Monza is not to be confused with earlier Milanese composer Carlo Ignazio Monza, who is sometimes referred to inaccurately as "Carlo Antonio Monza."