Madrigal choir

History of the Madrigal

  • Period: Jan 1, 1320 to Dec 31, 1330

    First madrigals in print

    The earliest madrigals were birthed in Northern Italy in the 1320s, and were characterized by their strong relation to the text with parallel consonant motion in two voices, with the lower voice intemded as a support for the upper voice. Notable composers: Giovanni da Cascia, Jacopo da Bologna, Magister Piero.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1480 to Dec 31, 1540

    Philippe Verdelot

    One of the pioneers of the genre, Verdelot had a mysterious early life, ending up in Venice in the beginning of the 16th century. He was one of the most famous composers in the 1530s, with two of his major collections published between 1534 and 1535, only comparable in popularity to Arcadelt.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1490 to Dec 7, 1562

    Adrian Willaert

    Willaert started his musical career in Paris, studying music with Jean Mouton, but moved to Rome around 1514 to compose for Cardinal Ippolito I d'Este. He moved to Venice around 1527 and started composing madrigals more seriously. One of his notable madrigals is "O Dolce Vita Mia", and he is famous for being the teacher of famous madrigalist Cipriano de Rore.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1507 to Oct 14, 1568

    Jacques Arcadelt

    A madrigalist under Duke Alessandro de Medici, Arcadelt grew in fame during the 1530s and his "Primo Libro" of madrigals was printed in 1538 and then reprinted in 1539, followed by three more collections of madrigals. Arcadelt was often said to have followed in Verdelot's footsteps.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1515 to Sep 11, 1565

    Cipriano de Rore

    De Rore, a pupil of Willaert's, began employment in an Italian court in the early 1540s, composing approximately 1/3 of his madrigals between 1542-6. He had madrigals in a total of seven collections, and composed a total of around 107 madrigals in his lifetime. He experimented more with chromaticism and subdivision of the beat than many composers of his time. One of the biggest rivals and contemporaries that de Rore had was Francesco dalla Viola, a composer that was far better paid than de Rore.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1530 to Dec 31, 1550

    Italian Madrigals from 1530-1550

    Italian madrigals during this early time period were mostly set to text from Petrarch, a famous 14th century poet, and other poets that followed in his path. Some notable composers from the time were: Verdelot, Arcadelt, Costanzo Festa, Maistre Jhan, Francesco Layolle, Corteccia, Alfonso dalla Viola, Domenica Ferrabosco, and Willaert. Widespread printing became huge in Italy during the late 1530s, sparked by the printing and reprinting of Arcadelt's first four books of madrigals.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1532 to

    Andrea Gabrieli

    Andrea Gabrieli is a composer primarily based in Verona. His first madrigal was published in 1554, and his characteristic style is comprised of contrasting textures, polyphonic complexity, and bright colors. He strayed away from publishing four-voice madrigals, instead focusing on either lighter 3-voice madrigals or 5-12 voices with great textural contrasts. Gabrieli is best known for composing music in all styles, not just madrigal-writing. He is best-known for his polychoral works.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1535 to

    Giaches de Wert

    Wert was a Franco-Flemish composer working in Italy around the same time as Andrea Gabrieli and Ferretti, and he was heavily influenced by de Rore, as seen in his earlier works which have heavy chromaticism and a darker color. His later works showed a refinement of compositional style, resulting in his compositions of both expressionistic madrigals and recitational madrigals, in a declamatory style.
  • Period: Jan 18, 1543 to

    Alfonso Ferrabosco

    Ferrabosco served Queen Elizabeth I between 1562 and 1578, and was one of the few madrigalists in England prior to 1570. He composed for five voices, but due to his lack of chromaticism his works appealed to the simpler musical aesthetics of the English. His primary influence is Orlando de Lassus, a French composer in the late 16th century.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1550 to Jan 1, 1560

    Italian Madrigals of 1550-1560

    In the late 1540s and early 1550s the "new generation" of Italian composers started flourishing. These composers included Cipriano de Rore and Philippe de Monte, both 'oltremontani'. Rore, a student of Willaert, utilized more chromaticism and varied voicings (five-voice madrigals) than his predecessor did. De Monte is the most prolific madrigal composer ever, composing a total of over 1000 pieces for voices ranging from three to seven.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1553 to

    Luca Marenzio

    Marenzio is one of the most prolific madrigal composers of the late 16th century, and is characterized by his five-voice compositions, which make up the bulk of his total madrigal writing. He was one of the first composers to move away from Petrarchal texts in his compositions, and wrote 'hybrid madrigals' comprised of lighter textures (similar to canzoni) and pastoral texts. He gradually utilized chromaticism to a more and more daring degree throughout his career, showing his melancholic nature
  • Period: Jan 1, 1557 to

    Thomas Morley

    Morley was a student of William Byrd, and heavily focused on the Italian style of madrigal writing, popularizing English-text madrigals in England between 1593-1601. According to Morley himself, he focused more on the light, canzona-style of madrigal writing instead of the darker, Italianate style. He was also known for compiling anthologies of important English madrigals, the most famous collection being "The Triumphes of Oriana" (1601)
  • Period: Jan 1, 1560 to Jan 1, 1580

    Italian Madrigals 1560-1580

    The 1560s were the start of a new generation of madrigalists, including such composers as Andrea Gabrieli, Wert, Giovanni Ferretti, G.A. Dragoni, Francesco Soriano, G.M. Nanino, and Macque. These composers used word-painting and characteristics of lighter forms of music to create a more progressive selection of madrigals.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1560 to

    English Madrigals

    Madrigals started to become popular in England when Alfonso Ferrabosco began working for Queen Elizabeth, composing madrigals in Italian. The English language itself was not used in madrigals until the 1570s, when English poets undertook a "comprehensive reform of native poetry among Italian lines." Famous composers of the time included Morley, Farmer, Kirbye, Weelkes, and Wilbye, utilizing more caution with regard to chromaticism than the Italians of the same time.
  • Period: May 15, 1567 to

    Claudio Monteverdi

    Monteverdi is wide regarded as one of the most important composers of all time, and he is certainly the most important composer from the 16th-17th century. His madrigal compositions cover a wide range of compositional styles, as his works prior to the seconda pratica have a much different character ('Ecco mormorar l'onde') when compared to 'Ohime, il bel viso', a piece composed in 1614. His use of chromaticism, but in a manner that highlights the text through word-painting, is characteristic.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1580 to

    Italian Madrigal 1580-1600

    The Italian madrigal in the late 16th century is primarily shaped by other genres, such as canzoni, as well as the 'seconda pratica' coined by Monteverdi. The lighter style of composition that canzoni brought to the madrigal is shown in compositions by composers such as Marenzio, who pioneered the 'hybrid madrigal' style. The 'seconda pratica' which developed as a counter to the overly florid madrigals in the late 70s and 80s, significantly slowed down the quantity of madrigals produced.