Born: 1490; Piedmont
Died: April 10, 1545; Rome, Italy
One of Italy's first madrigalists and motet composers. Festa and was noted in his day as a choir director, eventually becoming the maestro di cappella at the Vatican. He was among the first Italian composers to adopt the Netherlands style of counterpoint, as practiced by Willaert and Arcadelt. In fact, some scholars even consider him the first native-born Italian madrigalist. Even the critics who give that credit instead to one of the frottolistsRead more would agree that Festa played a primary role in the development not just of the Roman style, but of the Italian madrigal itself. Several of his works show the frottola influence, with one voice taking a relatively simple melody, and the other voices harmonizing underneath, providing, in effect, a vocal, chord-based accompaniment, though they most notably differ by not using a strophic structure. Others point forward more overtly by incorporating the word-painting that characterized Italian madrigals all the way into the Mannerist school, imitation among the different vocal parts, or adding minor chords and suspensions to emphasize emotional expression. He was widely admired and published, with at least one of his compositions included in nearly every important collection. His first solo book of madrigals, a collection for three voices published in 1537 (some sources give 1543), was a major success and widely reprinted throughout Italy. His motets were equally popular and one of his Te Deums is still in use at Vatican services, regularly performed at the election of new popes. Read less
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