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Luca Marenzio

Luca Marenzio

The Italian composer Luca Marenzio (c. 1553-1599) was the greatest master of the Italian madrigal. His works spread throughout the Low Countries and Germany, and he was the main foreign influence in the development of the English madrigal school.

Luca Marenzio was born in Coccaglio and may have been a chorister in the nearby Cathedral of Brescia under G. Contini. In 1577 Marenzio contributed some madrigals to a minor Venetian anthology. Two years later he entered the employ of Cardinal Luigi d'Este in Rome. The cardinal spent a good deal of time at Ferrara, the home of the Este family, and it is likely that Marenzio accompanied him on most of these visits and met the court poets Torquato Tasso and G. B. Guarini, much of whose verse he set to music. During his 7 years with the cardinal, Marenzio published his first four books of madrigals for five voices, the first three volumes of madrigals for six voices, the madrigali spirituali, and the first three books of villanelle, in addition to a number of pieces for anthologies and the first of his five volumes of motets.

Marenzio served the Medici family in Florence from 1588 to 1589. He contributed music for the wedding festivities of Ferdinand de' Medici in May 1589 and published his fifth book of madrigals for five voices and the fourth for six voices, the volume of madrigals for four, five, and six voices, and the fourth and fifth books of villanelle. Marenzio was now at the height of his fame, and when he left the Medicean court he found no dearth of patrons. He spent most of his remaining years in Rome, where he died on Aug. 22, 1599.

Seventeen volumes of madrigals containing over 200 pieces were published during Marenzio's lifetime; of these more than half were reprinted at least once before his death and continued to be reprinted for a decade after. His villanelle were almost as popular as his madrigals.

Marenzio represents the summation of the madrigal. He utilized the entire range of style and expression (except polychoral writing) bequeathed by earlier composers to the development of the type. His most remarkable characteristic, however, in which he outstrips all his predecessors and contemporaries, is his "word painting," a technique that was not new but which Marenzio raised to a new significance. This technique is a much more integral and important aspect of his style in his earlier and most popular madrigals, for from 1588 on he became more concerned with expression of mood as well as more serious in his choice of texts, both features reflecting the impact of the religious emotion engendered by the Counter Reformation.

Further Reading

A biography of Marenzio is Denis Arnold, Marenzio (1965). Information on Marenzio and historical background are in Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance (1954; rev. ed. 1959), and The New Oxford History of Music, vol. 4 (1968). See also Alfred Einstein, The Italian Madrigal (1949). □

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Marenzio, Luca

Luca Marenzio (lōō´kä märĕn´tsēō), 1553–1599, Italian composer, in whose works the Renaissance madrigal reached its peak of development. He served the Gonzaga family in Mantua, the Medicis in Florence, and in the households of several cardinals, and toward the end of his life attended the court of Sigismund III of Poland.

See study by D. Arnold (1966).

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Marenzio, Luca

MARENZIO, LUCA

Renaissance composer, renowned for his madrigals; b. Coccaglio (near Brescia), Italy, 1553; d. Rome, Aug. 22, 1599. As a boy he may have studied with Giovanni Contino at Brescia cathedral. While serving Cardinal Luigi d'Este in Rome (157986), he often visited the brilliant este court in Ferrara. From 1591 to 1595 Cardinal Aldobrandini was his patron, and from 1596 to 1598 he was at the Polish court of Sigismund III. He was one of the rare Italian musicians of the period who never held a church appointment. His influence as a composer of matchless Italian madrigals is directly responsible for the flowering of the English madrigal school. Although his secular works are most numerous, his sacred music includes a Mass for 8 voices, two books of 4-voice motets (1588,1592), a book of 12-voice motets (1614), a book of Sacri concenti for 5 to 7 voices (1616), and a series of motets for church festivals. Reprints of his sacred works include: Luca Marenzio: Motetten (ed. H. Engel, 1926); motets in F. X. Haberl's Repertorium Musicae Sacrae (18861925); and other items in K. Proske's Musica Divina (185363).

Bibliography: Sämtliche Werke, ed. a. einstein (Leipzig 1929). There are modern eds. of the motets by m. haller in Repertorium Musicae Sacrae, ed. f. x. haberl (18861925) and h. engel (Vienna 1926). h. engel, Luca Marenzio (Florence 1956). a. einstein, The Italian Madrigal, tr. a. h. krappe et al., 3 v. (Princeton N.J. 1949), v. 2. g. reese, Music in the Renaissance (rev. ed. New York 1959). j. ravell and s. broman, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom, 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 5:574576. n. slonimsky, ed., Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (5th ed. New York 1958) 1028. o. cullin, "Luca Marenzio: Madrigaux à 5 voix, Livres 5 et 6, Part 1," Analyse Musicale, 25 (1991) 5364; "Luca Marenzio: Madrigaux à 5 voix, Livres 5 et 6, Part 2," Analyse Musicale, 26 (1992) 6571. r. freedman, "Marenzio's Madrigali a quattro, cinque et sei voci of 1588: A Newly Revealed Madrigal Cycle and Its Intellectual Context," Journal of Musicology, 13 (1995) 318354. s. ledbetter and r. jackson, "Luca Marenzio," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. s. sadie, v. 11 (New York 1980) 667674. b. janz, "Die Petrarca-Vertonungen von Luca Marenzio" (Ph.D. diss. Frankfurt am Main 1987). l. macy, "The Late Madrigals of Luca Marenzio" (Ph.D. diss. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1991). j. steele, "Marenzio: From Mannerist to Expressionist," Miscellanea Musicologica, 11 (1980) 129153.

[l. j. wagner]

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Marenzio, Luca

Marenzio, Luca

Marenzio, Luca, important Italian composer; b. Coccaglio, near Brescia, 1553 or 1554; d. Rome, Aug. 22, 1599. Little is known of his early life. He may have studied with Giovanni Contino in Brescia. About 1574 he entered the service of Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo in Rome. Following Madruzzo’s death in 1578, he entered the service of Cardinal Luigi d’Este; he made an extended visit with the cardinal to the court of Duke Alfonso II d’Este in Ferrara, where he spent the months of Nov. 1580 to May 1581; he dedicated 2 vols. of madrigals to the duke and his sister Lucrezia. After the death of the cardinal in 1586, he entered the service of Ferdinando de’ Medici, the grand duke of Florence (1588). In 1589 he returned to Rome, where he apparently received the patronage of several cardinals. About 1593 he entered the service of Cardinal Cinzio Aldo-brandini, and then subsequently served at the court of Sigismund III of Poland (1596–98). He then returned to Rome, where he died the following year. Marenzio was one of the foremost madrigalists of his time; his later works in the genre are historically significant for their advanced harmonic procedures. He also composed about 75 motets. He was called by his contemporaries “il piu dolce cigno d’Italia” and “divino compositore.” B. Meier and R. Jackson ed. the Opera omnia in Corpus Mensurabilis Musicae (1976), and S. Ledbetter and P. Myers ed. his secular works (1977 et seq.).

Works

vocal: secular:Il primo libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (Venice, 1580); Il primo libro de madrigali for 6 Voices (Venice, 1581); 11 secondo libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (Venice, 1581); It terzo libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (Venice, 1582); 11 secondo libro de madrigali for 6 Voices (Venice, 1584); Madrigali spirituali for 5 Voices (Rome, 1584; enl. ed., 1610); Il quarto libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (Venice, 1584); Il primo libro delle villanelle for 3 Voices (Venice, 1584); Il quinto libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (Venice, 1585); It terzo libro de madrigali for 6 Voices (Venice, 1585); Il secondo libro delle canzonette alla napolitana for 3 Voices (Venice, 1585); Madrigali...libro primo for 4 Voices (Rome, 1585); It terzo libro delle villanelle for 3 Voices (Venice, 1585; 4th ed., enl., 1600); Il quarto libro de madrigali for 6 Voices (Venice, 1587; 3rd ed., rev., 1593); Il quarto libro delle villanelle for 3 Voices (Venice, 1587; 4th ed., rev., 1600); Il quinto libro delle villanelle for 3 Voices (Venice, 1587); Madrigali...libro primo for 4, 5, and 6 Voices (Venice, 1588); Il quinto libro de madrigali for 6 Voices (Venice, 1591); Il sesto libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (Venice, 1594); Il sesto libro de madrigali for 6 Voices (Venice, 1595); Il settimo libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (Venice, 1595); L’ottavo libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (Venice, 1598); Il nono libro de madrigali for 5 Voices (Venice, 1599); also 11 secondo libro de madrigali for 4 Voices, which is not extant. sacred:Motectorum pro festis totius anni cum Communi Sanctorum for 4 Voices (Venice, 1585); Completorium et antiphonae for 6 Voices (Venice, 1595; not extant); Motetti for 12 Voices (Venice, 1614); Sacrae cantiones for 5, 6, and 7 Voices (Venice, 1616).

Bibliography

P. Guerrini, L. M., il piu dolce cigno d’Italia nel centenario della nascita (Brescia, 1953); H. Engel, L. M. (Florence, 1956); D. Arnold, M. (London, 1965); S. Ledbetter, L. M.: New Biographical Findings (diss., N.Y.U., 1971); J. Chater, L. M. and the Italian Madrigal 1577–1593 (2 vols., Ann Arbor, 1981); B. Janz, Die Petrarca-Vertongungen von L. M.: Dichtung und Musik in späten Cinquecento- Madrigal (Tutzing, 1992).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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