Skip to main content
Select Source:

Adrian Willaert

Adrian Willaert

Adrian Willaert (ca. 1480-1562), a Franco-Flemish composer active in Italy, founded the Venetian school of composers.

It is supposed that Adrian Willaert was born in Bruges, and almost nothing is known of his earliest years. He was intended for the law and went to Paris for legal training but soon switched to music, becoming a student of Jean Mouton, a disciple of Josquin des Prez. After completing his musical studies, Willaert sojourned briefly in Rome and then entered the service of Duke Alfonso d'Este I at Ferrara (1522-1525). For the following three years (1525-1527) he was employed by the duke's brother, Ippolito d'Este II, Archbishop of Milan. Finally, in 1527, Willaert was named choir director of St. Mark's in Venice, and he retained this important post for his last 35 years, training many illustrious composers who constitute the Venetian school.

Willaert's works include all the major forms of his time, such as Masses, motets, madrigals, villanescas, and chansons. Among the secular genres, first place must go to the madrigals. Willaert grafted northern polyphony onto the simple Italian form, raising it to the artistic level of the imitative motet; at the same time he continued to write uncomplicated native forms such as the villanesca. His French chansons may be divided into two groups: melismatic, canonic, cantus-firmus pieces from his early years; and syllabic, text-oriented, and occasionally chromatic pieces reflecting the influence of the Italian madrigal.

Much more significant are the sacred works, as befitted the choirmaster of the second most important church in Italy. Most of his ten surviving Masses are "parodies", that is, elaborations of preexistent motets, madrigals, or chansons. Despite their beauty, they rank below the approximately 350 motets in which he carried forward, and even went beyond, the brilliant models of Josquin des Prez. The Latin texts of Willaert's motets included such diverse sources as the Aeneid of Virgil, devotional lyrics of contemporary poets, and the liturgical books of the Roman Catholic Church. The music of these masterful creations is filled with canons, thoroughgoing imitation, mild chromaticism, and polychoral writing.

Willaert's polychoral psalms of 1550 popularized this already known style of composition and influenced later composers such as Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli to the degree that Willaert was credited until recently with the invention of chori spezzati, or scoring for two antiphonal choirs. His experiments with chromaticism influenced such students as Nicolo' Vicentino; and another pupil, Gioseffo Zarlino, derived from his polyphonic achievements the most complete analysis of 16th-century counterpoint.

Further Reading

For an analysis of Willaert's style see Alfred Einstein, The Italian Madrigal (3 vols., trans. 1949), and Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance (1954; rev. ed. 1959). The role of Willaert's music in Renaissance society is treated in Paul Henry Lang, Music in Western Civilization (1941). □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Adrian Willaert." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Adrian Willaert." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/adrian-willaert

"Adrian Willaert." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved December 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/adrian-willaert

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Willaert, Adrian

Adrian Willaert (äd´rēän vĬl´ärt), c.1490–1562, Flemish composer. After brief engagements at Ferrara and Milan, he was choirmaster at St. Mark's, Venice, from 1527 until his death. Willaert was the founder of the Venetian school of composition. His polychoral settings of psalms and the Magnificat helped popularize this technique, and he and his followers were important in the development of the madrigal. Among his works are masses, motets, instrumental ricercari, and French and Italian secular songs.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Willaert, Adrian." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Willaert, Adrian." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/willaert-adrian

"Willaert, Adrian." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/willaert-adrian

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Willaert, Adrian

WILLAERT, ADRIAN

Franco-Flemish composer who founded the "Venetian School"; b. Bruges, c. 1480; d. Venice, Dec. 7, 1562. After completing his musical studies in Paris with the Franco-Flemish master, Jean Mouton, he sojourned in Rome, then served as choir director to Duke Alfonso I d'Este at Ferrara (152225). In 1527 he was appointed choir director of St. Mark's in Venice, and he retained this important post for his remaining 35 years of life, training many illustrious composers who comprise the Venetian school. Willaert grafted northern polyphony onto the simple Italian madrigal, raising it to the level of the imitative motet; at the same time he continued to write uncomplicated native forms such as the villanesca. His experiments in chromaticism were to influence such students as vicentino, while another pupil, zarlino, derived from his polyphonic achievements the most complete analysis of late 16th-century counterpoint. Willaert's collection of polychoral psalms (1550) popularized this already existent style of composition and influenced later composers such as Andreae and Giovanni gabrieli to such a degree that the older master was even credited until recently with the invention of chori spezzati (scoring for two antiphonal choirs).

Bibliography: Opera Omnia, ed. h. zenck and w. gerstenberg. Corpus mensurabilis musicae, ed. American Institute of Musicology 3; Rome 1950. a. carapetyan, "The Musica Nova of A. Willaert," Journal of Renaissance and Baroque Music 1 (1946) 200221. a. einstein, The Italian Madrigal, tr. a. h. krappe et al., 3 v. (Princeton 1949) 1:318339. g. reese, Music in the Renaissance (rev. ed. New York 1959). Histoire de la musique ed. roland-manuel, 2 v. (Paris 196063); v.9, 16 of Encyclopédie de la Pléiade v.1 passim. p. h. lÁng, Music in Western Civilization (New York 1941). b. bujic, "Palestrina, Willaert, Arcadelt, and the art of imitation," Recercare 10 (1998) 105131. r. freedman, "Claude Le Jeune, Adrian Willaert, and the Art of Musical Translation," in Early Music History 13: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Music, ed. i. fenlon, (Cambridge 1994) 123148. d. kÄmper, "Willaerts Quid non ebrietas, " Analecta Musicologica 10 (1970) 9193. g. m. lanfranco, "Miscellaneous Letters: Giovanni Maria Lanfranco to Adrian Willaert, 20, October 1531," in A Correspondence of Renaissance Musicians, ed. b. j. blackburn, e. e. lowinsky, and c. a. miller (Oxford 1991) 957971. a. smith, "Willaert motets and mode," Basler Jahrbuch für Historische Musikpraxis 16 (1992) 117165. a. wathey, "The Motet Texts of Philippe de Vitry in German Humanist Manuscripts of the Fifteenth Century," in Music in the German Renaissance: Sources, Styles, and Contexts, ed. j. kmetz (Cambridge 1994) 195201.

[e. r. lerner]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Willaert, Adrian." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Willaert, Adrian." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/willaert-adrian

"Willaert, Adrian." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved December 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/willaert-adrian

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Willaert, Adrian

Willaert, Adrian

Willaert, Adrian, important Flemish composer and pedagogue; b. Bruges or Roulaers, c. 1490; d. Venice, Dec. 7, 1562. He enrolled as a law student at the Univ. of Paris, then devoted himself to music. He studied composition with Jean Mouton, a musician in the Royal Chapel. In 1515 he entered the service of Cardinal Ippolito I d’Esté of Ferrara. He accompanied the cardinal, who was Archbishop of Esztergom, to Hungary in 1517; the cardinal died in 1520, and Willaert entered the service of Duke Alfonso I d’Esté of Ferrara (1522); subsequently, Willaert was in the service of Cardinal Ippolito II d’Esté, the Archbishop of Milan (1525-27). On Dec. 12, 1527, he was appointed maestro di cappella of San Marco in Venice. With the exception of 2 visits to Flanders (1542 and 1556-57), he remained in Venice for the rest of his life, as a composer and teacher. Among his famous pupils were Zarlino, Cipriano de Rore, Andrea Gabrieli, and Costanzo Porta. Willaert was justly regarded as a founder of the great Venetian school of composition; the style of writing for 2 antiphonal choirs (prompted by the twin opposed organs of San Marco) was principally initiated by him. He was one of the greatest masters of the madrigal and of the instrumental ricercare; he also wrote motets, chansons, Psalms, and Masses. For the complete works, see H. Zenck and W. Gerstenberg, eds., Adrian Willaert: Opera omnia, in the Corpus Mensurabilis Musicae series, iii/1 (Rome, 1950-77).

Works

Liber quinqué missarum (Venice, 1536); Hymnorum musica (Venice, 1542); J sacri e santi salmi che si cantano a Vespro e Compieta... for 4 Voices (Venice, 1555; aug. ed., 1571); Motec-ta...liber primus for 4 Voices (Venice, 1539; aug. ed., 1545); Mottetti...libro secundo for 4 Voices (Venice, 1539; aug. ed., 1545); Motecta...liber primus for 5 Voices (Venice, 1539); II primo libro di motetti for 6 Voices (Venice, 1542); Musica nova (Venice, 1559); Livre de meslanges...26 chansons (Paris, 1560); Cincquiesme livre de chansons for 3 Voices (Paris, 1560); Musica nova (Venice, 1559); Madrigali for 4 Voices (Venice, 1563); 9 ricercares a 3 (1551; ed. by H. Zenck, Mainz and Leipzig, 1933).

Bibliography

E. Gregoir, A. W. (Brussels, 1869); E. Hertzmann, A. W. in der weltlichen Vokalmusik seiner Zeit (Leipzig, 1931); I.

Bossuyt, A. W., ca. 1490-1562: Leven en werk: Stijl en genres (Leuven, 1985); G. Ongaro, The Chapel of St. Mark’s at the Time of A. W. (1527-1562); A Documentary Study (diss., Univ. of N.C., 1986).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Willaert, Adrian." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Willaert, Adrian." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/willaert-adrian

"Willaert, Adrian." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . Retrieved December 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/willaert-adrian

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.