History[ edit ] Origins and early madrigals[ edit ] Pietro Bembo in a painting by Titian. National Gallery of Art, Washington. In the early 16th century, several humanistic trends converged which allowed the madrigal to form. First, there was a reawakened interest in use of Italian as a vernacular language. Poet and literary theorist Pietro Bembo edited an edition of Petrarch , the great 14th-century poet, in , and later published his theories on how contemporary poets could attain excellence by imitating Petrarch, and by being carefully attentive to the exact sounds of words, as well as their positioning within lines. These composers had mastered a serious polyphonic style suitable for setting sacred music, and also were familiar with the secular music of their homelands, music such as the chanson , which differed considerably from the lighter Italian secular styles of the late 15th and very early 16th centuries.
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History[ edit ] Origins and early madrigals[ edit ] Pietro Bembo in a painting by Titian. National Gallery of Art, Washington. In the early 16th century, several humanistic trends converged which allowed the madrigal to form. First, there was a reawakened interest in use of Italian as a vernacular language.
Poet and literary theorist Pietro Bembo edited an edition of Petrarch , the great 14th-century poet, in , and later published his theories on how contemporary poets could attain excellence by imitating Petrarch, and by being carefully attentive to the exact sounds of words, as well as their positioning within lines. These composers had mastered a serious polyphonic style suitable for setting sacred music, and also were familiar with the secular music of their homelands, music such as the chanson , which differed considerably from the lighter Italian secular styles of the late 15th and very early 16th centuries.
The music being written and sung, principally the frottola but also the ballata , canzonetta , and mascherata , was light, and typically used verses of relatively low literary quality. These popular music styles used repetition and soprano-dominated chordal textures, styles considerably more simple than those used by most of the resident composers of the Franco-Flemish school. Literary tastes were changing, and the more serious verse of Bembo and his school needed a means of musical expression more flexible and open than was available in the frottola and its related forms.
The madrigal did not replace the frottola right away; during the transitional decade of the s, both frottole and madrigals though not yet in name were written and published.
The earliest madrigals were probably those by Bernardo Pisano , in his Musica di messer Bernardo Pisano sopra le canzone del Petrarcha, which was also the first secular music collection ever printed containing only the works of a single composer. While none of the pieces in the collection use the name "madrigal", some of the compositions are settings of Petrarch, and the music carefully observes word placement and accent, and even contains word-painting , a feature which was to become characteristic of the later madrigal.
Verdelot, a French composer, had written the pieces in the late s, while he lived in Florence. He included music by both Sebastiano and Costanzo Festa , as well as Maistre Jhan of Ferrara, in addition to his own music. In and he published two books of four voice madrigals in Venice; these were to become extremely popular, so much so that their reprint was one of the most widely printed and distributed music books of the first half of the 16th century.
They sold so well that Adrian Willaert made arrangements of some of these works for single voice and lute in Verdelot published madrigals for five and six voices as well, with the collection for six voices appearing in Originally published in Venice, in , it was reprinted throughout Europe for many years after, becoming the most often reprinted madrigal book of the entire era. This may be unsurprising considering that the native language of both Arcadelt and Verdelot was French, and both had written chansons themselves when in their homeland; however, they were carefully attentive to text setting, in keeping with the ideas of Bembo, and they through-composed the music, writing new music for each line of text, rather than using the refrain and verse constructions that were common in French secular music.
Adrian Willaert and his associates at St. Willaert preferred more complex textures to Arcadelt and Verdelot; often his madrigals were similar to motets, with their polyphonic language, although he varied texture between homophonic and polyphonic passages as necessary to highlight the text. While Willaert was restrained and subtle in his text setting, striving more for homogeneity than sharp contrast, Rore was one to experiment.
He used extravagant rhetorical gestures, including word-painting and unusual chromatic relationships, a trend encouraged by visionary music theorist Nicola Vicentino. Some famous names of the period, besides Rore, are Palestrina, who wrote some secular music early in his career; the young Orlande de Lassus , who wrote many well-known examples, including the highly experimental and chromatic Prophetiae Sibyllarum , and who, on moving to Munich in , began the history of madrigal composition outside of Italy; and Philippe de Monte , the most prolific of all madrigal composers, whose first publication dates from Luca Marenzio , a highly influential composer of madrigals in the last two decades of the 16th century Late in the 16th century, while "classic" madrigals continued to be written throughout Italy, different styles of madrigal composition developed somewhat independently in different geographic areas.
In Venice, composers such as Andrea Gabrieli continued to write madrigals in the classic tradition, but with the bright, open, polyphonic textures for which he was famous in his motets and other works.
At the court of Ferrara, the presence of three uniquely gifted female singers — the concerto delle donne — attracted a group of composers who wrote highly ornamented madrigals, often with instrumental accompaniment, to be performed by members of this group.
Marenzio came closest to unifying all the different stylistic currents of the time, writing madrigals which attempted to capture every nuance of emotion in the poems using every musical means then available. Marenzio wrote over madrigals during his short life. Where verse by Petrarch had been the standard, and themes of love and longing and death had been typical, by the s composers had begun bringing back elements of some lighter Italian forms, such as the villanella , with their dancelike rhythms and verses on carefree subjects.
The canzonetta was a specific offshoot of the madrigal in this vein. This technique is also known as " word-painting. While this mannerism is a prominent feature of madrigals of the late 16th century, including both Italian and English, it encountered sharp criticism from some composers. Thomas Campion , writing in the preface to his first book of lute songs , said of it: " Since its invention, it had served two principal roles: as a pleasant private entertainment for small groups of skilled amateur musicians; and as an adjunct to large ceremonial public performances.
The first use, the private one, was by far the most common throughout the life of the madrigal, and it was through these enthusiastic gatherings of amateurs that the madrigal acquired its fame. However, in the last two decades of the century, virtuoso professional singers began to replace amateurs, and composers wrote music for them of greater dramatic force.
Not only was this music harder to sing, but the sentiments expressed tended to require soloists rather than equal members of an ensemble in order to be dramatically convincing. Carlo Gesualdo , Prince of Venosa Also during this period a division between performers and passive audiences — not the large audiences present at a public ceremonial spectacle, as seen earlier in the century, but relatively small, intimate gatherings, with performers and listeners, a situation recognizably modern — began to be seen, especially in such progressive cultural centers as Ferrara and Mantua.
Much of what was once expressed in a madrigal in , could twenty years later be expressed by an aria in the new form of opera; however, the madrigal continued to live on into the 17th century, in several forms, including old-style madrigals for many voices; a solo form with instrumental accompaniment; and the concertato madrigal, of which Claudio Monteverdi was the most famous practitioner. Gesualdo published six books of madrigals during his lifetime, as well as some sacred music in madrigalian style for example the Tenebrae Responsories of Monteverdi was the most influential composer of madrigals after Of all the composers of madrigals of the late 16th century, none was as central a figure as Claudio Monteverdi , who was often credited as the principal actor in the transition from Renaissance music to Baroque music.
In his long career, he wrote nine books of madrigals, which showed the transition from the late 16th-century polyphonic style to the monodic and concertato style, accompanied by basso continuo , of the early Baroque. As expressive as Gesualdo, he avoided the extremes of chromaticism employed by that composer and instead focused on the dramatic possibilities inherent in the form. His fifth and sixth books include not only polyphonic madrigals for equal voices in the manner of the late 16th century, but also madrigals with parts for solo voice accompanied by continuo; additionally these works make use of unprepared dissonances and recitative -like passages, foreshadowing the eventual absorption of the solo madrigal into the aria.
The soprano and bass line became more important to the texture than the inner voices, if they existed at all as independent parts; functional tonality began to develop; composers treated dissonance more freely than before; and dramatic contrasts between groupings of voices and instruments became increasingly common. In the 17th century madrigal, two separate trends can be identified: the solo madrigal, which involved a solo voice with basso continuo, and madrigals for two or more voices, also with basso continuo.
In addition, some composers continued to write ensemble madrigals in the older style, especially in England. Instrumental performance of madrigals had already been widespread for much of the 16th century, either in arrangements or in performances mixed with singers. As madrigals had originally been largely designed for performance by groups of talented amateurs, without a passive audience, instruments were also commonly used to fill in for missing parts.
Instrumentation during the period was rarely specified; indeed Monteverdi indicated in his fifth and sixth book of madrigals that the basso seguente, the instrumental bass part, was optional in the ensemble madrigals. The most commonly used instruments for playing the bass line and filling in any inner parts, at this time, were the lute , theorbo chitarrone , and harpsichord. The point was anti-contrapuntal: Caccini and the Camerata believed that the words needed to be heard above all else, and polyphonic, evenly balanced voices easily obscured intelligibility.
Monteverdi himself wrote only one solo madrigal, which he published in his Seventh Book of Madrigals in While it uses only one singing voice, it employs three separate groups of instruments — a considerable advance from the simple voice and basso continuo compositions of Caccini around The last book of solo madrigals which did not contain any arias appeared in ; that was also the first year in which a group of arias was published which contained no madrigals.
However, these madrigals were not intended for performance so much as study, and as such show that the form was being viewed in retrospect. Among other innovations in this work is the stile concitato — the "agitated style", which uses, among other things, string tremolo. The solo madrigal was supplanted by the aria and solo cantata; the ensemble madrigal by the cantata and dialogue. By few madrigals were still being published, and opera had become the predominant dramatic musical form.
The unaccompanied madrigal survived longer in England than in the rest of Europe. There, composers continued to produce works in the lateth century style of the genre after the form had gone out of fashion on the Continent. Elsewhere in Europe[ edit ] Part of a series on Music of.
Madrigals, Libro 6 (Gesualdo, Carlo)
That same year, his elder brother died at 20, making marriage an imperative for the younger Gesualdo. They wed in Naples in , and the following year an heir was born. On October 17, , Gesualdo , assisted by three servants, killed them both. The incident attracted public outrage, but there would be no trial, as authorities from both Church and State convened to dispose of the matter. In Ferrara, Gesualdo came into contact with court composer Luzzascho Luzzaschi and his "secret music," and became a close friend of the poet Torquato Tasso. Upon returning to his estate late in , Gesualdo resolved to travel no more.
Gesualdo: Madrigals Books 5 and 6
Madrigals, Libro 5 (Gesualdo, Carlo)