A Coney Island of the Madrigal: <i>Wert and Marenzio</i>

Susan McClary

in Modal Subjectivities

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780520234932
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929159 | DOI:
A Coney Island of the Madrigal: Wert and Marenzio

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The madrigalists examined thus far—Philippe Verdelot, Jacques Arcadelt, Adrian Willaert, and Cipriano de Rore—differ considerably from one another in their priorities, but share a commitment to conceptual unity. In contrast, there were the guys who gave the genre a bad name: their purported abuses, which came to be called “madrigalisms,” came under critical attack even during the sixteenth century. The metaphysical poets, like the madrigalists discussed in this chapter, pursued maniera, or mannerisms, which gave its name to Mannerism. So long as composers relate their music to lyrics in ways that do not call attention to the musical imagination per se, they apparently pass aesthetic muster. Giaches de Wert and Luca Marenzio, however, made music go places it had never gone before (or since, for that matter). In taking the text “at its word” and literalizing its often bizarre tropes, they produced virtual realities that invite the listener to imagine the self as infinitely malleable. This chapter demonstrates this best by undertaking a comparison between settings by Wert and Marenzio of a couple of particular texts.

Keywords: Giaches de Wert; Luca Marenzio; madrigalisms; conceptual unity; metaphysical poets; madrigalists; Mannerism; music; lyrics; self

Chapter.  10199 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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