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name for two different forms of Italian music, one related to the poetic madrigal in the 14th cent., the other the most common form of secular vocal music in the 16th cent. The poetic madrigal is a lyric consisting of one to four strophes of three lines followed by a two-line strophe called a ritornello. The most important 14th-century madrigal composers were Giovanni da Cascia (also known as Giovanni da Florentia) and Jacopo da Bologna (both fl. c.1350). Their madrigals are usually for two voices in long and florid melodic lines. The 16th-century madrigal is poetically a free imitation of its earlier counterpart; musically, it is unrelated. The earliest of these madrigals were usually homophonic in four and sometimes three parts, emotionally restrained, and lyric in spirit. The classic madrigals of Cipriano da Rore (1516–65), Andrea Gabrieli, Orlando di Lasso, and Filippo da Monte (1521–1603) were usually for five voices in a polyphonic and imitative style, the expression closely allied to the text. In the last part of the 16th cent. composers such as Luca Marenzio, Carlo Gesualdo (c.1560–1613), and Monteverdi intensified the expression of the text by the use of chromaticism, word painting, and declamatory effects. In the 17th cent. madrigal was used to designate certain expressive solo songs. In England the polyphonic madrigal had a late flowering in the Elizabethan era. Celebrated English madrigal composers include Byrd, Morley, Orlando Gibbons, Weelkes, and Wilbye.


See A. Einstein, The Italian Madrigal (3 vol., 1949); J. Kerman, The Elizabethan Madrigal (1962); J. Roche, The Madrigal (1972).



(Italian madrigale, from the medieval Latin matricale [from Latin mater, “mother”], a song in the mother tongue in contrast to Latin songs), a poetic and musical genre of the Renaissance. It originated in folk poetry, in old Italian pastoral songs. In the 14th century the madrigal appeared in Italian poetry as a lyric on idyllic themes and immediately attracted the attention of composers. Between the 14th and 16th centuries madrigal poems were generally written for a musical setting. The early musical-poetic madrigals were vocal and instrumental works for two or three voices consisting of several stanzas and a refrain. The subject matter was generally amorous, humorous, or mythological. Important composers included G. da Firenze and F. Landini.

After a period of decline the madrigal was revived in the 16th century as a piece for four or five voices, unaccompanied and usually lyrical. The principal composers in this form were A. Willaert, C. Festa, J. Arcadelt, Palestrina, and O. Lasso, and the texts were often verses by Petrarch, Boccaccio, Tasso, and Guarini. The madrigal was also popular in England (T. Morley, J. Wilbye) and Germany (H. L. Hassler, H. Schiitz). The late 16th-century madrigals of L. Marenzio, C. Gesualdo, and C. Monteverdi were characterized by a greater expressiveness of thought and feeling, abundant imagery, bold dissonances, chromaticism, and vivid rhythmic and stylistic contrasts. In the late 16th century and early 17th, madrigals fused with theatrical genres, becoming the basis for the madrigal comedy.

In later times madrigals were not musical compositions but rather “compliment” poems addressed to a lady. The madrigals of the 18th and early 19th centuries were salon and album verses. In Russia they were written by K. N. Batiushkov and A. S. Pushkin. A classic example is M. Iu. Lermontov’s poem:

Spirit incarnate! You boldly convince all;
I’ll agree, breathing love:
Your most beautiful body
Is but spirit!



1. Music a type of 16th- or 17th-century part song for unaccompanied voices with an amatory or pastoral text
2. a 14th-century Italian song, related to a pastoral stanzaic verse form
References in periodicals archive ?
The challenge for the early madrigalists was to translate such elements of solo song into the polyphonic 'maniera'" (90).
Endearingly homespun accounts from the Choir and Orchestra of the Czech Madrigalists recorded in the Church of All Saints in Prague Castle last May bring the seasonal Czech countryside to life, with a 'chuffy' little organ and a bright, warmly resonant chamber orchestra.
But again it is perhaps necessary to move beyond our tendency to focus on one or two prominent composers out of context, and look for evidence that other madrigalists in Rome's flourishing musical environment might themselves have been exploring this new technique at the same time.
English music from those eras was certainly an influence upon Tippett's musical vocabulary, dancing textures of the English madrigalists and the sonorous tensions of Purcell, prominent features of a style which remained unequivocally his own; jazz was another component, as was a Beethovenian sense of striving which led some to accuse his music of being "difficult" - nothing could be further from the truth, at least for the listener.
It is important to stress that this whole movement has important precursors that require at least a brief mention here: they were first and foremost the ensemble Ars revidiva with Milan Munclinger, and then Musica Antiqua Praha with Pavel Klikar and Miroslav Venhoda and his group The Prague Madrigalists.
During the first five or six years of her librarianship, Ruth continued Duncan's practices, while completing her dissertation on five sixteenth-century Italian madrigalists.
The son of a prominent courtier to whom Tasso had addressed ten poems and dedicated his dialogue De ludo, Pocaterra was also a talented poet, several of whose amorous stanzas were set to music by such madrigalists as Luzzasco Luzzaschi and Alfonso Fontanelli.
1557-1609) within The English Madrigalists series is convincing, and the volume is a valuable addition to our knowledge of the music available in England in the early seventeenth century.
For example in the spring of 1968 the two musicians formed the backbone of the concert of Prague Madrigalists "on the steps".
The Zlin Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic conducted by Milan Kanak gave a very respectable performance, and in the Zemek symphony it was joined by an imposing octet of soloists and the combined forces of the Kromeriz Moravian Madrigalists and the Brno Ambrosian Choir.