We present a summary of recent progress towards the understanding of the valence-band physics in wurtzite GaN. Systematic studies have been performed on the strain dependence of the free exciton resonance energies by photoreflectance measurements using well-characterized samples. Analyzing the experimental data with the Hamiltonian appropriate for the valence bands, the values have been determined of the crystal field splitting, the spin-orbit splitting, the shear deformation potential constants, and the energy gap in the unstrained crystal. Discussions are given on the strain dependence of the energy gaps, of the effective masses, and of the binding energies for the free exciton ground states as well as on the valence band parameters. Using the obtained values and the generalized Elliott formula, the fundamental optical absorption spectra obtained experimentally were analyzed. The values of the elastic stiffness constants, which play a crucial role to determine the shear deformation potential constants, are also given.