Carlo Gesualdo

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Carlo Gesualdo (c1561-1613), Italian nobleman (Prince of Venosa) and amateur composer, became notorious for his ordering the murder of his first wife and her lover in 1590. Today he is remembered more as a highly proficient and innovative composer of both secular and sacred music who furthered the development of both the madrigal and motet forms.

He was a master of the relationship between words and music, not afraid to be innovative in setting what he considered the right music for the texts. Thus, he is notable for using original harmonies and dissonances to adequately express the texts. For the last years of his life, in deep despondency, he locked himself away in his castle, finding solace only in his music; however he is known to have written over 40 motets, in addition to other sacred pieces, a number of instrumental works, and about 120 madrigals for which he is acknowledged, with Monteverdi as a supreme master of the art.


“Oxford Companion to Music”

“The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music”

“The Metropolitan Opera Encyclopedia” - David Hamilton