The Luxury of Solipsism: <i>Gesualdo</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:
The Luxury of Solipsism: Gesualdo

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In 1995, German cinematic auteur Werner Herzog released Gesualdo: Death in Five Voices, a documentary of sorts on the composer's life and music. Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, ought never to have put himself in the subject position of composer. He answered to no one but wrote increasingly for himself, thus justifying to some extent those who would view him as anticipating a Romantic vision of “self-expression.” Gesualdo published his first four books of madrigals in Ferrara, and set lyrics of Ferrarese poets, as did the other musicians at court. This chapter treats the Gesualdo of the first four books as a Ferrarese composer;one who shared with Luzzasco Luzzaschi an enthusiasm for their predecessor Nicola Vicentino's arcicembalo and theories of chromatic and enharmonic genres, along with a penchant for lyrics that mined a rich vein of feelings located at the intersection of pleasure and pain.

Keywords: Werner Herzog; music; Carlo Gesualdo; self-expression; madrigals; Ferrara; lyrics; poets; pleasure; pain

Chapter.  10357 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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