madrigal (It. madrigale; orig. matricale—pastoral in the mother-tongue).
Vocal comp., of It. origin, for several vv., usually unacc. but sometimes with instr. acc. Texts usually secular (amorous, satirical, or allegorical), but there are madrigali spirituali
. Madrigals were first sung in It. towards the end of the 13th cent. and early examples survive by Giovanni da Cascia and Jacopo da Bologna. The form was revived in a different style in the 16th cent. by It. composers and by the Flemish Arcadelt, Verdelot, and Willaert. It became more complex and experimental in the hands of Lassus
, and A. Gabrieli
and achieved its finest flowering in the works of Donati, Marenzio, Gesualdo, and, especially, Monteverdi. In the 17th cent. it was superseded by the cantata.
The singing of It. madrigals was imported to Eng. by It. composers such as Ferrabosco
the elder who worked at Elizabeth I
's court. Nicholas Yonge, of St Paul's Cath., formed a madrigal choir and in 1588 pubd. Musica Transalpina
, a coll. of It. madrigals to Eng. words. Eng. composers such as Byrd
, and later Weelkes
, wrote superb madrigals, though they did not always call them by that name. In the 19th cent., mock-madrigals were composed by Sullivan
See also Fellowes, E. H.
Form of unaccompanied vocal music originating in Italy in the 14th century. Early madrigals feature two or three parts and a highly ornamented upper part. During the 16th and early 17th centuries, the number of voices increased and the style became more contrapuntal. Italian masters ( Andrea Gabrieli
) and Flemish composers such as Orlando di Lasso
dominated the middle period of madrigal composition (c.
and English composers such as William Byrd
, Orlando Gibbons
, and Thomas Weelkes
commanded the late period (c.
mad·ri·gal / ˈmadrigəl/ •
n. a part-song for several voices, esp. one of the Renaissance period, typically arranged in elaborate counterpoint and without instrumental accompaniment. Originally used of a genre of 14th-century Italian songs, the term now usually refers to English or Italian songs of the late 16th and early 17th c., in a free style strongly influenced by the text.DERIVATIVES: mad·ri·gal·i·an / ˌmadriˈgālēən/ adj.mad·ri·gal·ist / -ist/ n.
amatory lyrical poem, esp. to be set to music; kind of part song, XVI. — It. madrigale
(whence F., Sp. madrigal
), of uncert. orig.