Important Renaissance composer and theorist; b. Vicenza, Italy, 1511; d. Rome, 1572. Vincentino was a disciple of the great musician A. willaert, and after priestly studies and ordination he served as chapelmaster at the Ferrara court (to 1539), at Rome with Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este, at Vincenza, and at Milan. One of the leading innovators of the 16th century, he had a significant role in the development of monody and also of a new, expressive harmony further developed by C. de rore and Gesualdo. In his madrigals he expanded tonality to include chromatic and enharmonic progressions, constructing two instruments, the archicembalo and archiorgano, to demonstrate their intervals. In his church music, notably his several books of motets, his style was that of musica moderna. He preferred free compositions to those using a liturgical cantus firmus, gave precedence to the text over the polyphonic structure, precipitated the question of musica reservata, and in certain of his concepts anticipated the departures of zarlino. It was a controversy with Lusitano (1551) that led to his treatise L'Antica musica ridotta alla moderna prattica [1555; microcarded by Eastman School of Music (Rochester 1954)]. In his writings he advocated the liberation of composition from established traditions and the reform of old-fashioned counterpoint and of stereotyped handling of church modes and their cadences.
Bibliography: Collected Works, ed. h. w. kaufmann (Corpus mensurabilis musicae, ed. American Institute of Musicology, 26; 1963). t. kroyer, Die Anfänge der Chromatik (Leipzig 1901). r. o. morris, Contrapuntal Technique in the 16th Century (Oxford 1934). b. meier, "Reservata-Probleme," Acta musicologica 30 (1958) 77–89. g. reese, Music in the Renaissance (rev. ed. New York 1959). h. w. kaufmann, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949–). p. r. brink, "The Archicembalo of Nicola Vicentino" (Ph.D. diss., Ohio State University, 1966). h. w. kaufmann, The Life and Works of Nicola Vicentino (1511–c.1576) (Rome 1966); "Nicola Vicentino" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 19, ed. s. sadie (New York 1980) 699–701. c. nick, "A Stylistic Analysis of the Music of Nicola Vicentino" (Ph.D. diss. Indiana University, 1967). d. m. randel, ed., The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Cambridge 1996) 948. n. slonimsky, ed. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Eighth Edition (New York 1992) 1960.
[k. g. fellerer]