Wert, Giaches (or Jaches) de, eminent Flemish composer; b. probably in Weert, near Antwerp, between May 6 and Aug. 18, 1535; d. Mantua, May 6, 1596. He was taken to Italy in childhood to serve as a chorister at the court of Maria di Cordona, Marchese della Padulla, in Avellino, near Naples. By 1558 he was in the service of Count Alfonso Gonzaga in Novellara, and in 1565 he was appointed maestro di cappella at the ducal chapel of S. Barbara in Mantua, which was to remain the center of his activities for the remainder of his life. Wert’s early years in Mantua were made difficult by the enmity of his fellow members of the cappella, most especially Agostino Bonvicino, who had hoped to become maestro di cappella; while he failed to attain this post, he did succeed in pursuing an adulterous relationship with Wert’s wife. Wert himself later had an affair with Tarquinia Molza, a niece of Francesco Maria Molza, a fine poet and musician in Ferrara. In 1580 Wert received Mantuan citizenship. In 1582-83 and again in 1585 Gastoldi was called upon to serve as maestro di cappella during bouts of ill health by Wert; in 1592 he was formally appointed Wert’s successor, although Wert remained active at the court until his death. Wert was greatly esteemed by contemporary musicians; Palestrina praised him, and he was also mentioned favorably by Thomas Morley, Artusi, G.B. Doni, and Monteverdi. Wert was distinguished as both a madrigalist and a composer of sacred works. See C. MacClintock and M. Bernstein, eds., G. d.W.: Collected Works, Corpus Mensurabilis Musicae, XXIV (1961- ).
(all 1st publ. in Venice): VOCAL: Secular: II primo libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (1558); II primo libro de madrigali for 4 Voices (1561); Madrigali del fiore, libro primo for 5 Voices (1561); Madrigali del fiore, libro secondo for 5 Voices (1561); Il terzo libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (1563); II secondo libro de madrigali, nuovamente con nuova giunta ristampati for 5 Voices (1564); II quarto libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (1567); II quinto libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (1571); II sesto libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (1577); II settimo libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (1581); L’ottavo libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (1586); II nono libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (1581); II primo libro delle canzonette, villanelle for 5 Voices (1589); II decimo libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (1591); L’undecimo libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (1595); II duodecimo libro de madrigali for 4 to 7 Voices (1608); other works in contemporary collections. Sacred: Motectorum liber primus for 5 Voices (1566); II secondo libro de motetti for 5 Voices (1581); Modulationum liber primus for 6 Voices (1581); other works in contemporary collections. INSTRUMENTAL : Fantasias, a 4.
C. MacClintock, The Five-part Madrigals of G. d.W.(diss., Ind. Univ., 1955); M. Bernstein, The Sacred Vocal Music of G. d.W.(diss., Univ. of N.C., 1964); C. MacClintock, G d.W. (1535-1596): Life and Works, Musicological Studies and Documents, XVII (1966).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire