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Artist images 3 more. He is famous for his intensely expressive madrigals, which use a chromatic language not heard again until the 19th century; and he is also famous for committing what are possibly the most famous murders in musical history, of his first wife and her lover. The evidence that Gesualdo was tortured by guilt for the remainder of his life is considerable, and he may have given exp… read more. Carlo Gesualdo, known as Gesualdo da Venosa? He is famous for his in… read more.
Similar Artists Play all. Trending Tracks 1. Features Exploring the local sounds and scenes at Noise Pop Fest. Albums of the latest and loved, and the ones to look out for discover By okspud1 15 Feb am. Sunday 15 December Monday 16 December Tuesday 17 December Wednesday 18 December Thursday 19 December Friday 20 December Saturday 21 December Sunday 22 December Monday 23 December Tuesday 24 December Wednesday 25 December Thursday 26 December Friday 27 December Saturday 28 December Sunday 29 December Monday 30 December Tuesday 31 December Wednesday 1 January Such visceral settings were the forte of Carlo Gesualdo , whose last two books of madrigals his fifth and sixth, both published in are especially noted for their use of intense chromaticism in vividly rendering the love-death metaphor.
Among the most noteworthy of the pieces from these late collections -- published just two years before his death in -- is the madrigal Moro, lasso, al mio duolo, which takes erotic suffering as its central image.
Of course, the substitution in madrigal poetry of death for sexual ecstasy is not arbitrary, and perhaps Gesualdo 's talent at evocative musical rendering derives for good or ill from a literal, or intellectual, conflation of the two. In an infamous incident uncannily attuned to the nature of his music, Gesualdo , upon discovering his wife and her lover in a compromising situation, reportedly murdered them both in a fit of rage.
However, Gesualdo 's violence was fueled by love and jealousy alone; he is reported to have employed a crew of young boys to flagellate him on a regular basis. This sense of violent ecstasy on the brink of insanity can certainly be sensed in his music. Throughout Moro, lasso, there is a constant tension between diatonic repose and chromatic rage. The piece begins with long-held notes moving slowly in descending half steps, metaphorically representing death and agony; this is sharply contrasted by the subsequent break on the words "she who could give me life" into a stream of flowing, imitative counterpoint.
This kind of juxtaposition recurs throughout the piece in a thorough playing out of the text's dichotomous imagery: between gasping pauses and shimmering held notes of exclamation, life is represented by active linear motion and counterpoint, death and pain by searing chromatic chordal progressions; what emerges from this polarity is an expression of longing fraught with ineffable tension.
One 20th-century biographer has raised the possibility that he was murdered by his wife. The sepulchre was destroyed in the earthquake of When the church was rebuilt, the tomb was covered over, and now lies beneath it. The burial plaque, however, remains visible. The evidence that Gesualdo was tortured by guilt for the remainder of his life is considerable, and he may have given expression to it in his music.
One of the most obvious characteristics of his music is the extravagant text setting of words representing extremes of emotion: "love", "pain", "death", "ecstasy", "agony" and other similar words occur frequently in his madrigal texts, most of which he probably wrote himself.
While this type of word-painting is common among madrigalists of the late 16th century, it reached an extreme development in Gesualdo's music.
His music is among the most experimental and expressive of the Renaissance , and without question is the most wildly chromatic. Progressions such as those written by Gesualdo did not appear again in music until the 19th century, and then in a context of tonality.
Gesualdo's published music falls into three categories: sacred vocal music, secular vocal music, and instrumental music. His most famous compositions are his six books of madrigals, published between and , as well as his Tenebrae Responsoria , which are very much like madrigals, except that they use texts from the Passion , a form Tenebrae used by many other composers.
In addition to the works which he published, he left a large quantity of music in manuscript. This contains some of his richest experiments in chromaticism, as well as compositions in such contemporary avant-garde forms as monody. Some of these were products of the years he spent in Ferrara, and some were specifically written for the virtuoso singers there, the three women of the concerto di donne.
The first books of madrigals that Gesualdo published are close in style to the work of other contemporary madrigalists. There is evidence that Gesualdo had these works in score form, in order to better display his contrapuntal inventions to other musicians, and also that Gesualdo intended his works to be sung by equal voices, as opposed to the concerted madrigal style popular in the period, which involved doubling and replacing voices with instruments.
Characteristic of the Gesualdo style is a sectional format in which relatively slow-tempo passages of wild, occasionally shocking chromaticism alternate with quick-tempo diatonic passages. The text is closely wedded to the music, with individual words being given maximum attention. Some of the chromatic passages include all twelve notes of the chromatic scale within a single phrase, although scattered throughout different voices.
Gesualdo was particularly fond of chromatic third relations, for instance juxtaposing the chords of A major and F major , or even C-sharp major and A minor , as he does for example at the beginning of "Moro, lasso, al mio duolo". The Tenebrae Responsoria , published in , are religious music, Responsories for Holy Week , but stylistically they are madrigals, albeit madrigali spirituali , i.
As in the later books of secular madrigals, he uses particularly sharp dissonance and shocking chromatic juxtapositions, especially in the parts highlighting text passages having to do with Christ's suffering, or the guilt of St.
Peter in having betrayed him. The fascination for Gesualdo's music has been fuelled by the sensational aspects of his biography. If Gesualdo had not committed such shocking acts, we might not pay such close attention to his music. But if he had not written such shocking music we would not care so much about his deeds. In his own lifetime, the salacious details of Gesualdo's killing of his first wife and her lover were widely publicized, including in verse by poets such as Tasso and an entire flock of Neapolitan poets, eager to capitalize on the sensation.
After the Renaissance Gesualdo's life story and his music were largely forgotten until the 20th century: in Gray and Warlock published their book on Gesualdo. In Alfred Schnittke wrote an opera based on Gesualdo's life. Another Gesualdo opera was written by Franz Hummel in as a commission from the city of Kaiserslautern.
Mozart's C-Minor Piano Concerto was interrupted after the first movement, and a recording of some madrigals by Gesualdo took its place. And a bridge they remained even while singing the most startlingly chromatic of the mad prince's compositions.
Through the uneven phrases of the madrigals, the music pursued its course, never sticking to the same key for two bars together. In Gesualdo, that fantastic character out of a Webster melodrama, psychological disintegration had exaggerated, had pushed to the extreme limit, a tendency inherent in modal as opposed to fully tonal music. The resulting works sounded as though they might have been written by the later Schoenberg.I die! Languishing, of grief, and the person who can give me life, alas, kills me and does not want to give me aid. O woeful fate! That the one who can give me life, alas, gives me death! This is the English translation of "Moro, Lasso, Al Mio Duolo" by Carlo Gesualdo.