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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 ?
By contrast, the subsequent chapter 4 presents a well-organized account of the Medici as patrons of the early madrigalists.
When I had to choose the theme of my dissertation I was already living and working in Prague and playing with the Prague Madrigalists.
I chose the Madrigalists as a theme because it was so close to my interests and because I would have a lot of sources and materials to hand here.
Pirrotta suggests that these other composers `might have been asked to participate in the venture less on the strength of their fame as madrigalists than as a means of showing the extent of the support for the Company of Musicians (that had either just been established or was soon to be so)'.
The volume of Sacred Hymnes of 3, 4, 5 and 6 Parts for Voyces and Viols (London: Edward Allde, 1615) by the East Anglian composer John Amner (1579-1641) is also very welcome, and Morehen's argument that it belongs within The English Madrigalists series is strengthened by the fact that this composer was clearly much influenced by the secular forms of his day (the ballet--in which "Fa la" is replaced by "Alleluia"--and canzonet in particular), although the pieces with viols are as much in the idiom of the verse anthem as of the consort song.
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.
Other composer celebrities at the festival included Antonin Tucapsky, whose musical profile was presented by the Kromeriz Moravian Madrigalists conducted by Radek Dockal at the final concert, Alois Pinos, with two pieces performed by the male vocal quintet QVox at the launch of the opening exhibition, Rudolf Ruzicka, who presented his electro-acoustic compositions by himself and in combination with a film by Petr Baran, and Richard Mayer, who draws inspiration for his music from several stays in Iceland.
We tend to associate the Italian madrigal with places like Mantua, Ferrara, and Venice--cities that provided extensive patronage to a host of famed madrigalists such as Adrian Willaert, Cipriano de Rore, Luca Marenzio, and Giaches de Wert, among others.
Haar, a scholar whose work on the madrigal is without equal, is the author of one of the few studies on Cimello's madrigals ("Giovanthomaso Cimello as Madrigalist," Studi musicali 22 [1993]: 23-59; reprinted in The Science and Art of Renaissance Music, ed.
Again like Vecchi, Orologio was among those Italian madrigalists whose works were so popular and influential abroad, particularly in England, where many of their pieces were copied into anthologies around 1600.
Her rather complex analysis of madrigal texts, schematic cadential mapping, and musical examples persuasively argue for a concern of characterization, rhetoric, and harmonic design in the Italian madrigalists who followed the Adrian Willaert-Cipriano de Rore circle.