Carlo Gesualdo

Biography

Born: 1566; Naples, Italy   Died: September 8, 1613; Naples, Italy  
Gesualdo's strength was his ability to combine a variety of unconventional strategies into the service of a deeply felt and psychologically effective whole. Gesualdo's style, once regarded as unique, has helped to open up an entire field of study relating to the avant-garde of the late sixteenth century, sometimes referred to by scholars as the "Mannerist Revolution." This movement vanished once Baroque style came to the forefront of music in Read more Italy.

Gesualdo was born the second son of the Second Prince of Venosa, probably in the town that bears his family's name. After receiving musical training from Stefano Felis and Giovanni de Macque, Gesualdo's earliest known work appears in 1585, when he was 19. That same year, his elder brother died at 20, making marriage an imperative for the younger Gesualdo. The bride was his first cousin, Maria d'Avalos, at age 25 already twice-widowed. They wed in Naples in 1586, and the following year an heir was born. Gesualdo discovered d'Avalos in an affair with the Duke of Andria. On October 17, 1590, Gesualdo, assisted by three servants, killed them both. The incident attracted public outrage, but there would be no trial, as authorities from both Church and State convened to dispose of the matter. Gesualdo's father died in 1591, and another marriage was arranged to Donna Leonora d'Este, taking place in Ferrara in February, 1594. In Ferrara, Gesualdo came into contact with court composer Luzzascho Luzzaschi and his "secret music," and became a close friend of the poet Torquato Tasso. Upon returning to his estate late in 1596, Gesualdo resolved to travel no more. In 1597, d'Este bore Gesualdo a second son who died in 1600, an event that plunged the Prince into a deep despair. The couple separated in 1608, and in 1610 d'Este began divorce proceedings against Gesualdo, but changed her mind and returned. In 1613, Gesualdo's elder son died, and Gesualdo himself followed on September 8 at age 47. He was known to be violently asthmatic his whole life. In later years, he would pursue masochistic practices which chronically served to weaken him physically, his spirit already broken by a decade of insanity.

Gesualdo's six books of Madrigals constitute the main body of his work. Books I and II (1594) are rooted in standard practice, but when compared to contemporary settings of the same poetry, they reveal a stubbornly individual mind at work. Book III (1595) shows a decreased reliance on pre-existing settings, and by Book IV (1596), all the texts used are original. Here, Gesualdo's mature style begins to emerge. Books V and VI did not appear until 1611, but in these editions, Gesualdo states the madrigals were written "15 years" prior to the date of publication, and were printed only to protect the works from plagiarists. While essentially diatonic in character, madrigals such as Beltà, poi che t'assenti and Moro lasso contain music which modulates so frequently it results in a disoriented sense of key. Dissonance is used liberally; passing tones cross relate, and there are passages of stepwise chromatic motion resulting in a suspended tonality. Gesualdo published three books of sacred music. The first two, entitled Sacre Cantiones, appeared in 1603, and in the second book Gesualdo expanded his usual five-part texture into six and seven parts, though two of the partbooks are lost. The third book, Responsoria (1611), represents Gesualdo's final musical statement. It is entirely in his late style, and the responses composed for the Good Friday service contains some of the most assured and eloquent music that Gesualdo composed. Read less
Gesualdo: Sabbato Sancto Responsoria / Herreweghe
Release Date: 04/12/2005   Label: Harmonia Mundi Musique D'abord  
Catalog: 1951320   Number of Discs: 1
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Gesualdo: Madrigals / Christie, Les Arts Florissants
Release Date: 04/14/2009   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 501268   Number of Discs: 1
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Gesualdo: Tenebrae Responsories / Phillips, Tallis Scholars
Release Date: 05/14/2002   Label: Gimell  
Catalog: 15   Number of Discs: 1
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There are 109 Carlo Gesualdo recordings available.

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Works

Carlo Gesualdo


MOST POPULAR WORKS
Baci soavi e cari
Quanto ha di dolce amore
Madonna, io ben vorrei
Come esser puo ch'io viva
Gelo ha madonna il seno
Mentre madonna il lasso fianco posa
Ahi, troppo saggia nell'errar
Se da si nobil mano
Amor, pace non chero
Si gioioso mi fanno i dolor miei
O dolce mio martire
Tirsi morir volea
Freno Tirsi il desio
Mentre mia stella, miri
Non mirar, non mirare
Questi leggiadri odorosetti fiori
Felice primavera
Danzan le ninfe oneste
Son si belle le rose
Bella angioletta, da le vaghe piume
Luci serene e chiare
Tal'hor sano desio
Io tacero, ma nel silenzio mio
Invan, dunque, o crudele
Che fai meco, mio cor
Questa crudele e pia
Hor che in gioia
O sempre crudo amore
Cor mio, deh, non piangete
Dunque non m'offendete
Toccata del quarto tono
Sparge la morte al mio Signor
Moro, e mentre sospiro
Quando di lui la sospirata vita
Mentre gira costei
A voi, mentre il mio core
Ecco, moriro dunque
Ahi, gia mi discoloro
Arde il mio cor
Se chiudete nel core
Il sol qual or piu splende
Volgi mia luce
1. Gioite voi col canto
2. S'io non miro non moro
3. Itene, o miei sospiri
4. Dolcissima mia vita
5. O dolorosa gioia
6. Qual fora, donna
7. Felicissimo sono
8. Se vi duol il mio duolo
9. Occhi del mio cor vita
10. Languisce al fin
11. Merce grido piangendo
12. O voi, troppo felici
13. Correte, amanti, a prova
14. Asciugate i begli occhi
15. Tu m'uccidi, o crudele
16. Deh, coprute il bel seno
17. Poichè l'avida sete
18. Ma tu, cagion
19. O tenebroso giorno
20. Se tu fuggi, io non resto
21. T'amo, mia vita
Se la mia morte brami
Belta, poi che t'assenti
Tu piangi, o Filli mia
Resta di darmi noia
Chiaro risplender suole
Io parto, e non piu dissi
Mille volte il di moro
O dolce mio tesoro
Deh, come invan sospiro
Io pur respiro in cosi gran dolore
Alme d'Amor rubelle
Candido e verde fiore
Ardita Zanzaretta
Ardo per te, mio bene
Ancide sol la morte
Quel no crudel che la mia speme ancise
Moro, lasso, al mio duolo
Volan quasi farfalle
Al mio gioir il ciel si fa sereno
Tu segui, o bella Clori
Ancor che per amarti
Gia piansi nel dolore
Quando ridente e bella
Resp.1: Sicut ovis ad occisionem
Resp.2: Jerusalem, surge
Resp.3: Plange quasi virgo
Resp.4: Recessit pastor noster
Resp.5: O vos omnes
Resp.6: Ecce quomodo moritur justus
Resp.7: Astiterunt reges terrae
Resp.8: Aestimatus sum
Resp.9: Sepulto Domino
WORKS
Baci soavi e cari
Quanto ha di dolce amore
Madonna, io ben vorrei
Come esser puo ch'io viva
Gelo ha madonna il seno
Mentre madonna il lasso fianco posa
Ahi, troppo saggia nell'errar
Se da si nobil mano
Amor, pace non chero
Si gioioso mi fanno i dolor miei
O dolce mio martire
Tirsi morir volea
Freno Tirsi il desio
Mentre mia stella, miri
Non mirar, non mirare
Questi leggiadri odorosetti fiori
Felice primavera
Danzan le ninfe oneste
Son si belle le rose
Bella angioletta, da le vaghe piume
Luci serene e chiare
Tal'hor sano desio
Io tacero, ma nel silenzio mio
Invan, dunque, o crudele
Che fai meco, mio cor
Questa crudele e pia
Hor che in gioia
O sempre crudo amore
Cor mio, deh, non piangete
Dunque non m'offendete
Toccata del quarto tono
Sparge la morte al mio Signor
Moro, e mentre sospiro
Quando di lui la sospirata vita
Mentre gira costei
A voi, mentre il mio core
Ecco, moriro dunque
Ahi, gia mi discoloro
Arde il mio cor
Se chiudete nel core
Il sol qual or piu splende
Volgi mia luce
1. Gioite voi col canto
2. S'io non miro non moro
3. Itene, o miei sospiri
4. Dolcissima mia vita
5. O dolorosa gioia
6. Qual fora, donna
7. Felicissimo sono
8. Se vi duol il mio duolo
9. Occhi del mio cor vita
10. Languisce al fin
11. Merce grido piangendo
12. O voi, troppo felici
13. Correte, amanti, a prova
14. Asciugate i begli occhi
15. Tu m'uccidi, o crudele
16. Deh, coprute il bel seno
17. Poichè l'avida sete
18. Ma tu, cagion
19. O tenebroso giorno
20. Se tu fuggi, io non resto
21. T'amo, mia vita
Se la mia morte brami
Belta, poi che t'assenti
Tu piangi, o Filli mia
Resta di darmi noia
Chiaro risplender suole
Io parto, e non piu dissi
Mille volte il di moro
O dolce mio tesoro
Deh, come invan sospiro
Io pur respiro in cosi gran dolore
Alme d'Amor rubelle
Candido e verde fiore
Ardita Zanzaretta
Ardo per te, mio bene
Ancide sol la morte
Quel no crudel che la mia speme ancise
Moro, lasso, al mio duolo
Volan quasi farfalle
Al mio gioir il ciel si fa sereno
Tu segui, o bella Clori
Ancor che per amarti
Gia piansi nel dolore
Quando ridente e bella
Resp.1: Sicut ovis ad occisionem
Resp.2: Jerusalem, surge
Resp.3: Plange quasi virgo
Resp.4: Recessit pastor noster
Resp.5: O vos omnes
Resp.6: Ecce quomodo moritur justus
Resp.7: Astiterunt reges terrae
Resp.8: Aestimatus sum
Resp.9: Sepulto Domino


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