Luca Marenzio

Last updated

Luca Marenzio Luca conte Marenzio, Komponist des 16. Jahrhunderts.jpg
Luca Marenzio

Luca Marenzio (also Marentio; October 18, 1553 or 1554 – August 22, 1599) was an Italian composer and singer of the late Renaissance.

Contents

He was one of the most renowned composers of madrigals, and wrote some of the most famous examples of the form in its late stage of development, prior to its early Baroque transformation by Monteverdi. In all, Marenzio wrote around 500 madrigals, ranging from the lightest to the most serious styles, packed with word-painting, chromaticism, and other characteristics of the late madrigal style. Marenzio was influential as far away as England, where his earlier, lighter work appeared in 1588 in the Musica Transalpina , the collection that initiated the madrigal craze in that country.

Marenzio worked in the service of several aristocratic Italian families, including the Gonzaga, Este, and Medici, and spent most of his career in Rome.

Early years

According to biographer Leonardo Cozzando, writing in the late 17th century, Marenzio was born at Coccaglio, a small town near Brescia, as one of seven children to a poor family. His father was a notary clerk in Brescia. A birthdate of October 18, 1553 has been proposed, based his father's stating in 1588 that his son was 35, and a suggestion that he may have been named after St. Luke, whose feast day is on October 18. [1] [2]

Early career

He may have had some early musical training under Giovanni Contino, who was maestro di cappella at Brescia Cathedral from 1565 to 1567. He may also have gone with Contino to Mantua in 1568 when Contino began serving the Mantuan Gonzaga family; later in his life, Marenzio mentioned having spent five years in Mantua in the service of the Gonzaga family, but was unspecific as to when exactly this happened. [3]

Following his time in Brescia and Mantua, he went to Rome, where he was employed by Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo until July 1578, evidently as a singer. Since Madruzzo had been the employer of Contino in Trent, this may have been arranged by Contino. ]

Cardinal Luigi d'Este

After the cardinal's death Marenzio served at the court of Cardinal Luigi d'Este, who was a friend of Madruzzo; according to Marenzio himself, writing in the dedication of his first madrigal book, he was the cardinal's maestro di cappella, although Luigi's musical establishment only included a handful of musicians. [3] Shortly after his hire, Luigi attempted to land a position for him with the papal choir, but was unable to do so for political reasons.

Marenzio had the opportunity to travel with Luigi in winter to spring 1580–1581 to Ferrara, the home of the Este family and one of the principal centers for composition of progressive secular music in the late 16th century. While there, he took part in the wedding festivities for Vincenzo Gonzaga and Margherita Farnese, an opulent affair requiring equally opulent music. Marenzio would have had an opportunity to hear the newly formed Concerto delle donne, the virtuoso female singers with the repertory of "secret music" that so influenced the course of madrigal composition at the end of the Renaissance. While in Ferrara Marenzio wrote and dedicated two entire books of new madrigals to Alfonso II and Lucrezia d'Este. [3]

While Luigi made few demands on him, allowing him considerable time for his own musical pursuits, he paid him the tiny salary of only five scudi a month, about which Marenzio complained in the dedication (to Bianca Capello, Grand Duchess of Tuscany) of his Libro terzo a sei (1585). [4] In one impassioned letter, dated 1584, Marenzio implored his employer for more prompt payment. A comment by Marenzio to the Duke of Mantua indicates that he may have had considerable other income from freelancing in Rome, either as a singer or a lutenist. Several times during his tenure with Luigi, he tried to find other work: he applied for the post of maestro di cappella at the court of Mantua; and once, in 1583, Luigi considered sending him to Paris as a gift to King Henry III of France, but the project fell through, to Marenzio's considerable relief. [3]

During his period of employment with Cardinal Luigi d'Este Marenzio began to establish an extensive reputation as a composer. He also became known as an expert lutenist, as indicated in a letter of 1581 from a singer to Luigi d'Este; and by the time the cardinal died in 1586, Marenzio had become internationally famous as a composer, with his numerous books of madrigals published and reprinted not only in Italy, but in the Netherlands. The popularity of his work during this period is evident also in the frequency with which his madrigals appeared in anthologies. [3] [5]

After the death of Luigi d'Este on December 30, 1586, Marenzio was without a patron, but probably continued to freelance in Rome; and sometime in 1587 he went to Verona where he met Count Mario Bevilacqua and attended the prestigious Accademia Filarmonica, one of the associations of musicians and humanists, dedicated to cultivating the most progressive trends, typical of the late Renaissance. [3]

Florence and return to Rome

By the end of 1587, Marenzio had entered into the service of Ferdinando I de' Medici in Florence, where he stayed for two years. It is highly probable that he was already in the service of Ferdinando while the latter was still a cardinal living in Rome, and that he followed him to Florence when he succeeded to the granducal throne in 1587.

It is hard to assess the influence of Florentine composers on Marenzio's music. According to Alfred Einstein, "...he cannot conceivably have come to terms with the Camerata and with its pedantic and pretentious dilettantism." [6] But although Marenzio never ventured into solo song, as did Giulio Caccini and other Florentines, this did not prevent him from forming friendships with two Florentine dilettante composers, Piero Strozzi and Antonio de' Bicci. On November 30, 1589 Marenzio returned to Rome, where he served several patrons, while retaining considerable independence; he lived in the Orsini palace until 1593, in the service of Virginio Orsini, the nephew of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. [3] Another important patron at this time was Cardinal Cinzio Aldobrandini, nephew of the reigning Pope Clement VIII. This cardinal, who presided over an informal academy that gathered together men of letters and learning, assigned to Marenzio an apartment in the Vatican.

In 1595 John Dowland came to Italy to meet Marenzio; the two had exchanged letters when Dowland was still in England. Dowland got as far as Florence, and indicated that he wanted to study with Marenzio, but it is not known if he did: the two may never have met. [3]

Poland

Marenzio's final trip was a long one. He went to Poland in between late 1595 and early 1596, staying at least through October 1596, accepting a position as maestro di cappella at the court of Sigismund III Vasa in Warsaw; his predecessor, Annibale Stabile, had just died after only being there two months. While in Warsaw – the location of the court, recently moved from Kraków – Marenzio wrote and directed sacred music, including motets for double choir, a Te Deum for 13 voices, and a mass, the music for which has been lost.

According to pre-20th-century writers, the trip to Poland, which was ordered by the Pope, ruined Marenzio's health. [3] Marenzio returned from Poland by way of Venice, where he dedicated his eighth book of five-voice madrigals to the Gonzaga family. [3] Marenzio did not live long after reaching Rome; he died on August 22, 1599, in the care of his brother at the garden of the Villa Medici on Monte Pincio. He was buried in the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina. [7]

Music

While Marenzio wrote some sacred music in the form of masses, motets, and madrigali spirituali (madrigals based on religious texts), the vast majority of his work, and his enduring legacy, is his enormous output of madrigals. They vary greatly in style, technique and tone through the two decades of his composing career. To Marenzio, each madrigal text presented its own problem, which he solved in terms of that text alone: therefore there is no single "Marenzio style", and he used the entire repertory of harmonic, textural, and rhetorical devices available to a composer of the late sixteenth century in his work. According to him, each madrigal text was a challenge of translation: printed word into music. By late in his career he was easily the most influential madrigal composer in Europe, and his earlier madrigals became the model for the new school of madrigal composition in England. [3] [8]

Marenzio published 23 books of madrigals and related forms, including one book of madrigali spirituali; he may have produced one further book that does not survive. Nine of the collections are for five voices (and it is possible that he produced a final tenth book); six are for six voices; two are for four voices; one is for four to six voices; and the remaining five are books of villanelle, a lighter form popular in the late 16th century, for three voices only. In addition to secular music, he published two books of motets, one of which is lost, a book of antiphons (now lost), and a book of Sacrae cantiones for five to seven voices. Almost all of his works were initially published in Venice, except for the madrigali spirituali, which appeared in Rome. [3]

Marenzio produced seventeen books of madrigals between 1580 and 1589, which include some of the most expressive, varied and important works in madrigal literature. Most of the madrigals are for five voices, but he also wrote many four and six voice pieces, as well as a few exceptional settings for more, including one madrigal for eighteen voices for a Florentine intermedio in 1589. [9] Text and music are always close. He varies textures, using imitative counterpoint, chordal texture, recitatives as needed to express the text. [10] In addition to his madrigals he wrote canzonette and villanelle (related secular a cappella forms very much like madrigals, but usually a bit lighter in character). Close to 500 separate compositions survive.

Stylistically, his compositions show a generally increasing seriousness of tone throughout his life, but in all periods he was capable of the most astonishing mood-shifts within a single composition, sometimes within a single phrase; rarely does the music seem disunified, since he closely follows the texts of the poems being sung. During his last decade he not only wrote more serious, even sombre music, but experimented with chromaticism in a daring manner surpassed only by Gesualdo. [11] For example, in the madrigal O voi che sospirate a miglior note he modulated completely around the circle of fifths within a single phrase, using enharmonic spellings within single chords (for instance, simultaneous C sharp and D flat), impossible to sing without either pitch drift or tempering intervals such that singers would approximate a sort of circulating temperament.

Madrigal O voi che sospirate a miglior note, bars 35-41, featuring a modulation through almost the entire circle of fifths
"O voi che sospirate"
MIDI version
Problems playing this file? See media help. OVoiCheSospirate.svg
Madrigal O voi che sospirate a miglior note, bars 35–41, featuring a modulation through almost the entire circle of fifths

Even more characteristic of his style, and a defining characteristic of the madrigal as a genre, is his use of word-painting: the technique of mirroring in the music a specific word, phrase, implication or pun on what is being sung. An obvious example would be a setting of the phrase "sinking in the sea" to a descending series of notes, or accompanying the word "anguish" with a dissonant chord followed by an unsatisfying resolution.

Marenzio was often referred to as "the divine composer" or "the sweetest swan" by his successors. Like many of his contemporaries, he used pastoral and love poems from well-known Italian poets, such as Dante and Petrarch, but few set texts as attentively to their full expressive potential as did Marenzio. Using vivid imagery expressed through text-painting, he highlighted the specific emotions and moods contained in the poem. Consequently, historians claim Marenzio brought the Italian madrigal to its highest point of artistic and technical development. [12]

Influence

Luca Marenzio was hugely influential on composers in Italy, as well as in the rest of Europe, particularly in England, as his madrigals from the 1580s were among the favorites of English composers, who adapted his techniques of word-painting, textural contrast, and chromaticism to an English idiom. [13] As an example, when Nicholas Yonge published his Musica transalpina in 1588 in England, the first collection of Italian madrigals to be published there, Marenzio had the second-largest number of madrigals in the collection (after Alfonso Ferrabosco the elder); and the second collection of Italian madrigals published in England had more works by Marenzio than anyone else. [14] Some English composers who admired Marenzio's expressiveness and learned from him, gradually developing their own style from that seed, included Thomas Morley, John Wilbye, and Thomas Weelkes.

Outside of England, Marenzio's madrigals also influenced composers as widely distributed as Hans Leo Hassler in South Germany and Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck in the Low Countries. [15] In 1622 Henry Peacham wrote, "for delicious aires and sweet invention in madrigals, Luca Marenzio excelleth all others." This quote by Peacham illustrates the effect Luca Marenzio had on later development of the madrigal, and the admiration he elicited from other composers from that period. [16] Even in the mid-seventeenth century, Italian and English commentators continued to extol the virtues of Marenzio's compositions; his music appeared in arrangements for viols late in the century; and his music has continued to be sung almost without interruption to the present day by madrigal groups – one of very few Renaissance composers for whom that is true. [3]

Notes

  1. Bizzarini, Marco. Luca Marenzio: The Career of a Musician Between the Renaissance and the Counter-Reformation. New York: Aldershot, 2003.p.110
  2. Arnold/Carter, Oxford Music Online
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Ledbetter, Grove online
  4. Einstein, Vol. II p. 610
  5. Ewen, David 1966, p.238.
  6. Einstein, p. 611
  7. Ewen David 1966, p. 228.
  8. Reese, p. 420
  9. Jackson, Roland (November 1999). "Marenzio, Poland and the Late Polychoral Sacred Style". Early Music. Oxford University Press. 27 (4): 622–631. doi:10.1093/em/27.4.622. JSTOR   3128762.
  10. Ulrich Homer and Pisk Paul A. 1963, p.182
  11. Ewen, David 1966. p 238-239.
  12. Ewen, David. Great Composers 1300–1900. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1966.p.138-239.
  13. Dent, Edward J., 1968 pp. 62, 86
  14. Ferguson, Donald N. A History of Musical Thought. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1948. p.170.
  15. Chater, 1981 p.116
  16. Ewen David 1966, p. 238.

Related Research Articles

Orlande de Lassus Franco-Flemish composer (1532–1594)

Orlande de Lassus was a composer of the late Renaissance, chief representative of the mature polyphonic style of the Franco-Flemish school, and considered to be one of the three most famous and influential musicians in Europe at the end of the 16th century.

Giaches de Wert was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance, active in Italy. Intimately connected with the progressive musical center of Ferrara, he was one of the leaders in developing the style of the late Renaissance madrigal. He was one of the most influential of late sixteenth-century madrigal composers, particularly on Claudio Monteverdi, and his later music was formative on the development of music of the early Baroque era.

A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six. It is quite distinct from the Italian Trecento madrigal of the late 13th and 14th centuries, with which it shares only the name.

Philippe de Monte Flemish musician and composer

Philippe de Monte, sometimes known as Philippus de Monte, was a Flemish composer of the late Renaissance active all over Europe. He was a member of the 3rd generation madrigalists and wrote more madrigals than any other composer of the time. Sources cite him as being "the best composer in the entire country, particularly in the new manner and musica reservata." Others compare his collections of music with that of other influential composers, such as Lassus.

Felice Anerio Italian composer

Felice Anerio was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras, and a member of the Roman School of composers. He was the older brother of another important, and somewhat more progressive composer of the same period, Giovanni Francesco Anerio.

Giovanni Maria Nanino Italian composer

Giovanni Maria Nanino was an Italian composer and teacher of the late Renaissance. He was a member of the Roman School of composers, and was the most influential music teacher in Rome in the late 16th century. He was the older brother of composer Giovanni Bernardino Nanino.

Jacquet of Mantua was a French composer of the Renaissance, who spent almost his entire life in Italy. He was an influential member of the generation between Josquin and Palestrina, and represents well the transitional polyphonic style between those two composers.

In music, a canzonetta is a popular Italian secular vocal composition that originated around 1560. Earlier versions were somewhat like a madrigal but lighter in style—but by the 18th century, especially as it moved outside of Italy, the term came to mean a song for voice and accompaniment, usually in a light secular style.

Lodovico Agostini was an Italian composer, singer, priest, and scholar of the late Renaissance. He was a close associate of the Ferrara Estense court, and one of the most skilled representatives of the progressive secular style which developed there at the end of the 16th century.

Ruggiero Giovannelli Italian composer

Ruggiero Giovannelli was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. He was a member of the Roman School, and succeeded Palestrina at St. Peter's.

Giovanni de Macque was a Netherlandish composer of the late Renaissance and early Baroque, who spent almost his entire life in Italy. He was one of the most famous Neapolitan composers of the late 16th century; some of his experimentation with chromaticism was likely influenced by Carlo Gesualdo, who was an associate of his.

Alfonso Fontanelli was an Italian composer, writer, diplomat, courtier, and nobleman of the late Renaissance. He was one of the leading figures in the musically progressive Ferrara school in the late 16th century, and one of the earliest composers in the seconda pratica style at the transition to the Baroque era.

Concerto delle donne Group of professional female singers in the late Renaissance court of Ferrara, Italy

The concerto delle donne was a group of professional female singers in the late Renaissance court of Ferrara, Italy, renowned for their technical and artistic virtuosity. The ensemble was founded by Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara, in 1580 and was active until the court was dissolved in 1597. Giacomo Vincenti, a music publisher, praised the women as "virtuose giovani", echoing the sentiments of contemporaneous diarists and commentators.

Girolamo Belli was an Italian composer and music teacher of the late Renaissance. He was closely associated with the Ferrara School in the 1580s, having previously studied with Luzzasco Luzzaschi, and was noted for his composition of both madrigals and sacred music.

Giovanni Andrea Dragoni was an Italian composer of the Roman School of the late Renaissance, a student of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, and a prominent composer and maestro di cappella in Rome in the late 16th century. He left numerous sacred and secular works, almost all vocal, and was especially noted for his often-reprinted books of madrigals.

Margherita Gonzaga, Duchess of Ferrara Italian noble, sponsor of the arts

Margherita Gonzaga d'Este, Duchess of Ferrara was an Italian noblewoman, the daughter of William I, Duke of Mantua, and Eleonora of Austria, and the sister of Vincent I, Duke of Mantua, and Anna Caterina Gonzaga. She was the wife of Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara and Modena, whom she married in February 1579. This was the duke's third marriage, and it was hoped that she would produce a male heir. She did not, which partially led to the city of Ferrara's acquisition by the Papal States.

Benedetto Pallavicino was an Italian composer and organist of the late Renaissance. A prolific composer of madrigals, he was resident at the Gonzaga court of Mantua in the 1590s, where he was a close associate of Giaches de Wert, and a rival of his younger contemporary Claudio Monteverdi.

Francesco Portinaro was an Italian composer and humanist of the Renaissance, active both in northern Italy and in Rome. He was closely associated with the Ferrarese Este family, worked for several humanistic Renaissance academies, and was well known as a composer of madrigals and dialogues.

Luigi dEste Catholic cardinal

Luigi d'Este was an Italian Catholic cardinal, the second son of the five children of Ercole II d'Este, Duke of Modena and Ferrara, and Renée, daughter of Louis XII of France.

Mario Savioni

Mario Savioni was an Italian composer and a male alto of the Baroque era.

References