Jacques Arcadelt

Jacques Arcadelt

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Jacques Arcadelt'
Start a new discussion about 'Jacques Arcadelt'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia

Jacques Arcadelt ( – 14 October 1568) was a Franco-Flemish
Franco-Flemish School
In music, the Franco-Flemish School or more precisely the Netherlandish School refers, somewhat imprecisely, to the style of polyphonic vocal music composition in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, and to the composers who wrote it...

 composer of the Renaissance
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

, active in both Italy and France, and principally known as a composer of secular vocal music. Although he also wrote sacred vocal music, he was one of the most famous of the early composers of madrigal
Madrigal (music)
A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six....

s; his first book of madrigals, published within a decade of the appearance of the earliest examples of the form, was the most widely printed collection of madrigals of the entire era. In addition to his work as a madrigalist, and distinguishing him from the other prominent early composers of madrigals – Philippe Verdelot
Philippe Verdelot
Philippe Verdelot was a French composer of the Renaissance, who spent most of his life in Italy. He is commonly considered to be the father of the Italian madrigal, and certainly was one of its earliest and most prolific composers; in addition he was prominent in the musical life of Florence...

 and Costanzo Festa
Costanzo Festa
Costanzo Festa was an Italian composer of the Renaissance. While he is best known for his madrigals, he also wrote sacred vocal music...

 – he was equally prolific and adept at composing chanson
Chanson
A chanson is in general any lyric-driven French song, usually polyphonic and secular. A singer specialising in chansons is known as a "chanteur" or "chanteuse" ; a collection of chansons, especially from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, is also known as a chansonnier.-Chanson de geste:The...

s, particularly late in his career when he lived in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

.

Arcadelt was the most influential member of the early phase of madrigal composition, the "classic" phase; it was through Arcadelt's publications, more than those of any other composer, that the madrigal became known outside of Italy. Later composers considered Arcadelt's style to represent an ideal; later reprints of his first madrigal book were often used for teaching, with reprints appearing more than a century after its original publication.

Life


While little is known about his early life, a Flemish origin along with a French upbringing has been suggested from variations on the spelling of his name, and he may originally have been from the vicinity of Liège or Namur
Namur (city)
Namur is a city and municipality in Wallonia, in southern Belgium. It is both the capital of the province of Namur and of Wallonia....

, in present-day Belgium. He moved to Italy as a young man, and was present in Florence by the late 1520s, therefore having an opportunity to meet or work with Philippe Verdelot
Philippe Verdelot
Philippe Verdelot was a French composer of the Renaissance, who spent most of his life in Italy. He is commonly considered to be the father of the Italian madrigal, and certainly was one of its earliest and most prolific composers; in addition he was prominent in the musical life of Florence...

, who wrote the earliest named madrigals. In or immediately before 1538 he moved to Rome where he obtained an appointment with the papal choir
Choir
A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

 at St. Peter's Basilica; many composers from the Netherlands served as singers there throughout this era, and it is even possible that he went to Rome before coming to Florence. Still in Rome, in January 1539, he probably was made a member of the Julian Chapel (the records give his name as "Jacobus flandrus", suggesting a Flemish origin, but it cannot be known with certainty if this record referred to Arcadelt). After some months there he became a member of the Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio...

, where he was appointed "magister puerorum." The same year saw the publication of no less than four books of his madrigals. The first of these collections, Il primo libro di madrigali, went through 45 editions, becoming the most widely-reprinted collection of madrigals of the time.

Arcadelt remained in Rome as a singer and composer at the Sistine Chapel until 1551, except for one leave of absence to visit France in 1547. During this period, probably in early 1542, he made the acquaintance of Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

, but his madrigalian settings of two of the artist's sonnets were received with indifference; indeed, from Michelangelo's letters on the topic, he probably considered himself unmusical and incapable of appreciating Arcadelt's work. Michelangelo paid Arcadelt with a piece of satin suitable for making into a doublet
Doublet (clothing)
A doublet is a man's snug-fitting buttoned jacket that is fitted and shaped to the man's body which was worn in Western Europe from the Middle Ages through to the mid-17th century. The doublet was hip length or waist length and worn over the shirt or drawers. Until the end of the 15th century the...

.

Arcadelt wrote over 200 madrigals before he left Italy in 1551 to return to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, where he spent the remainder of his life; his numerous chansons date from this and subsequent years. In 1557 he published a book of masses, dedicated to his new employer, Charles de Guise, Cardinal of Lorraine (Arcadelt was maître de chapelle, i.e. choirmaster for him). In this publication he was mentioned as a member of the royal chapel, and therefore must have served both Henry II
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

 (died 1559) and Charles IX
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

 during this late phase of his career. In Paris he employed the publishing house of Le Roy and Ballard, who printed his abundant chansons, masses and motets just as the Venetian printers had earlier printed his madrigals.

François Rabelais
François Rabelais
François Rabelais was a major French Renaissance writer, doctor, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, the grotesque, bawdy jokes and songs...

 immortalized Arcadelt in the introduction to Book IV of Gargantua and Pantagruel
Gargantua and Pantagruel
The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel is a connected series of five novels written in the 16th century by François Rabelais. It is the story of two giants, a father and his son and their adventures, written in an amusing, extravagant, satirical vein...

, where he includes the musician between Clément Janequin
Clément Janequin
Clément Janequin was a French composer of the Renaissance. He was one of the most famous composers of popular chansons of the entire Renaissance, and along with Claudin de Sermisy, was hugely influential in the development of the Parisian chanson, especially the programmatic type...

 and Claudin de Sermisy
Claudin de Sermisy
Claudin de Sermisy was a French composer of the Renaissance. Along with Clément Janequin he was one of the most renowned composers of French chansons in the early 16th century; in addition he was a significant composer of sacred music...

 as part of a choir singing a ribald song, in which Priapus
Priapus
In Greek mythology, Priapus or Priapos , was a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia. Priapus is marked by his absurdly oversized, permanent erection, which gave rise to the medical term priapism...

 boasts to the gods on Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece, located on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, about 100 kilometres away from Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city. Mount Olympus has 52 peaks. The highest peak Mytikas, meaning "nose", rises to 2,917 metres...

 of his method of using a mallet to deflower a new bride.

Music


During his long and productive career, Arcadelt wrote music both sacred and secular, all of it vocal. He left a total of 24 motet
Motet
In classical music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.-Etymology:The name comes either from the Latin movere, or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." The Medieval Latin for "motet" is motectum, and the Italian...

s, 125 French chansons, approximately 250 madrigals (about fifty of which are of uncertain attribution), three masses
Mass (music)
The Mass, a form of sacred musical composition, is a choral composition that sets the invariable portions of the Eucharistic liturgy to music...

, as well as settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah and the Magnificat
Magnificat
The Magnificat — also known as the Song of Mary or the Canticle of Mary — is a canticle frequently sung liturgically in Christian church services. It is one of the eight most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn...

. There may be as many as 250 more madrigals by Arcadelt which survive anonymously in manuscript sources. Influences on his music ranged from the chanson and polyphonic style of his northern homeland, the native secular music of Italy such as the frottola
Frottola
The frottola was the predominant type of Italian popular, secular song of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. It was the most important and widespread predecessor to the madrigal...

, and the music he heard while he served in the Sistine Chapel choir. Of all the early madrigalists, he was by far the most universal in his influences as well as his appeal; and his influence on others was enormous. Arcadelt brought the madrigal form to its early maturity.

Madrigals


Arcadelt's several hundred madrigals, composed over a span of at least two decades, were usually for four voices, although he wrote a few for three, and a handful for five and six voices. Stylistically his madrigals are melodious and simple in structure, singable, and built on a clear harmonic basis, usually completely diatonic. The music is often syllablic, and while it sometimes uses repeated phrases, is almost always through-composed (as opposed to the contemporary chanson, which was often strophic). Arcadelt alternates homophonic and polyphonic textures, "in a state of delicate, labile equilibrium." His madrigals best represent the "classic" phase of development of the form, with their clear outline, four-part writing, refinement, and balance; the word-painting, chromaticism, ornamentation, virtuosity, expressionistic and manneristic writing of madrigalists later in the century are nowhere to be found in Arcadelt.

His music became immensely popular in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and France for more than a hundred years, with his first book of madrigals being reprinted fifty-eight times by 1654, and his music appearing in innumerable intabulation
Intabulation
Intabulation, from the Italian word intavolatura, refers to an arrangement of a vocal or ensemble piece for keyboard, lute, or other plucked string instrument, written in tablature. It was a common practice in 14th-16th century keyboard and lute music...

s for instruments such as the lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

, guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

, and viol
Viol
The viol is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed musical instruments developed in the mid-late 15th century and used primarily in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The family is related to and descends primarily from the Renaissance vihuela, a plucked instrument that preceded the...

. Additional hints to his popularity are the frequency with which anonymous compositions were attributed to him, and the appearance of his music in several paintings of musicians from the time. Likely his popularity was due to his gift for capturing the Italian spirit and marrying it with the technical perfection of the Franco-Flemish harmonic and polyphonic
Polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

 style; in addition he wrote catchy tunes which were easy to sing. Unlike later generations of madrigal composers, Arcadelt did not expect professional singers to be the only consumers of his work; anyone who could read notes could sing his madrigals.

For his texts, Arcadelt chose poets ranging from Petrarch
Petrarch
Francesco Petrarca , known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch is often called the "Father of Humanism"...

 (and his setting of a complete canzone, as a set of five interrelated madrigals, was the predecessor of the vogue for madrigal cycles), Pietro Bembo
Pietro Bembo
Pietro Bembo was an Italian scholar, poet, literary theorist, and cardinal. He was an influential figure in the development of the Italian language, specifically Tuscan, as a literary medium, and his writings assisted in the 16th-century revival of interest in the works of Petrarch...

, Sannazaro, to Florentines Lorenzino de'Medici, Benedetto Varchi, Filippo Strozzi, and Michelangelo himself, to others such as Luigi Cassola of Piacenza, a now-obscure writer who was among the most often-set poets of the early madrigalists. Much of the poetry of Arcadelt's madrigals has remained anonymous, just as some of Arcadelt's music doubtless survives anonymously. Another poet he set was the Marquis Alfonso d'Avalos, who wrote the words to his most single famous composition, and one of the most enduring of the entire 16th century: the four-voice madrigal Il bianco e dolce cigno (The white and gentle swan).

This madrigal was appealing on many levels. According to Alfred Einstein, writing in The Italian Madrigal, "...he is content with a simple, tender declamation of the text, depending upon the elementary and magical power of music, of harmony, which veils this poem in a cloak of sublime and distant sentimentality. Here is attained the ideal of what the time expected of the dolcezza [sweetness] and the suavità [suaveness] of music. Arcadelt has conferred upon this composition a quality which is very rare in sixteenth-century secular music, namely durability..." The texture is mostly homophonic, with a hint of fauxbourdon
Fauxbourdon
Fauxbourdon – French for false bass – is a technique of musical harmonisation used in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, particularly by composers of the Burgundian School. Guillaume Dufay was a prominent practitioner of the form, and may have been its inventor...

 in the harmony; the subject matter is erotic, with the orgasmic "thousand deaths" portrayed by a rising fourth figure in close imitation
Imitation (music)
In music, imitation is when a melody in a polyphonic texture is repeated shortly after its first appearance in a different voice, usually at a different pitch. The melody may vary through transposition, inversion, or otherwise, but retain its original character...

; brief bits of word-painting occur, such as the use of a flattened seventh on "piangendo"; and the musical phrases overlap the lines of verse, blurring the formal division of the line, a technique known in music, as in poetry, as enjambment
Enjambment
Enjambment or enjambement is the breaking of a syntactic unit by the end of a line or between two verses. It is to be contrasted with end-stopping, where each linguistic unit corresponds with a single line, and caesura, in which the linguistic unit ends mid-line...

.

Chansons


Since Arcadelt lived both in France in Italy and wrote secular music in both places, his chansons and madrigals not unexpectedly share some features. The chanson was by nature a more stable form, often strophic and with patterned repetition; the madrigal, on the other hand, was usually through-composed. As Arcadelt borrowed some features of the chanson when he wrote his madrigals, he wrote some of his chansons with madrigalian features. Most of his chansons are syllablic and simple, with brief bursts of polyphonic writing, occasionally canonic, and with sections imitating the note nere style of the madrigal – the fast "black notes" producing the effect of a patter song
Patter song
The patter song is characterized by a moderately fast to very fast tempo with a rapid succession of rhythmic patterns in which each syllable of text corresponds to one note...

. Some of his chansons were actually contrafacta of his madrigals (the same music, printed with new words French instead of Italian). Rarely in music history were the madrigal and the chanson more alike.

Sacred music


In addition to his copious output of madrigals and chansons, Arcadelt produced three mass
Mass (music)
The Mass, a form of sacred musical composition, is a choral composition that sets the invariable portions of the Eucharistic liturgy to music...

es, 24 motet
Motet
In classical music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.-Etymology:The name comes either from the Latin movere, or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." The Medieval Latin for "motet" is motectum, and the Italian...

s, settings of the Magnificat
Magnificat
The Magnificat — also known as the Song of Mary or the Canticle of Mary — is a canticle frequently sung liturgically in Christian church services. It is one of the eight most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn...

, the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and some sacred chansons – the French equivalent of the madrigale spirituale
Madrigale spirituale
A madrigale spirituale is a madrigal, or madrigal-like piece of music, with a sacred rather than a secular text...

. The masses are influenced by the previous generation of Franco-Flemish composers, particularly Jean Mouton
Jean Mouton
Jean Mouton was a French composer of the Renaissance. He was famous both for his motets, which are among the most refined of the time, and for being the teacher of Adrian Willaert, one of the founders of the Venetian School....

 and Josquin Des Prez
Josquin Des Prez
Josquin des Prez [Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez] , often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance...

; the motets, avoiding the dense polyphony
Polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

 favored by the Netherlanders, are more declamatory and clear in texture, in a manner similar to his secular music. Much of his religious music, except for the sacred chansons, he probably wrote during his years in the papal chapel in Rome. Documents from the Sistine Chapel archives indicate that the choir sang his music during his residence there.

Publishers


Antoine Gardano became the primary Italian publisher for Arcadelt, although the competing Venetian publishing house of Scotto
Scotto
Scotto is a given name and a surname , generally Italian, and may refer to:* Scotto, a 13th-century troubadour* Anthony M...

 brought out one of his madrigal books as well. Arcadelt's Il bianco e dolce cigno opened one of Gardano's books; as the piece had already achieved immense fame, it was the main selling point. In Paris, some of Arcadelt's chansons appeared as early as 1540 in the publications of Pierre Attaingnant
Pierre Attaingnant
Pierre Attaingnant was a French music printer, active in Paris.-Life:Attaingnant is considered to be first large-scale publisher of single-impression movable type for music-printing, thus making it possible to print faster and cheaper than predecessors such as Ottaviano Petrucci...

 and Jacques Moderne
Jacques Moderne
Jacques Moderne was an Italian-born music publisher active in France in the Renaissance Era....

, so must have been written in Italy. After Arcadelt returned to France, his chansons, masses, and motets appeared in the editions of the printing firm of Le Roy and Ballard throughout the 1550s and 1560s, while his music was still being printed in distant Venice.

Works


A complete modern edition of Arcadelt's works is published in CMM
Corpus mensurabilis musicae
The Corpus mensurabilis musicae is a collected print edition of most of the sacred and secular vocal music of the late medieval and Renaissance period in western music history, with an emphasis on the central Franco-Flemish and Italian repertories...

, xxxi, 1-10 (ten volumes), edited by Albert Seay. The first volume contains Arcadelt's masses; his secular compositions are in volumes two through nine, and his motets and other sacred music are in volume ten.

Original publications are as follows. Note that numbering is by number of voices: for example, there is an Il primo libro di madrigali (First Book of Madrigals) for four voices, and another Primo libro di madrigali for three.

Madrigals

  • Il primo libro di madrigali (four voices; Venice, 1539)
  • Il secondo libro de madrigali (four voices; Venice, 1539, published by Scotto)
  • Il vero secondo libro di madrigali (four voices; Venice, 1539)
  • Terzo libro de i madrigali novissimi (four voices; Venice, 1539)
  • Il quarto libro di madrigali (four voices; Venice, 1539)
  • Primo libro di madrigali (three voices; Venice, 1542)
  • Il quinto libro di madrigali (four voices; Venice, 1544)
  • Numerous other madrigals in other collections, and in manuscript, 1537 to 1559

Chansons

  • Quatorsiesme livre de chansons (four to six voices; Paris, 1561)
  • Tiers livres de chansons (four voices; Paris, 1567)
  • Quatrième livre de chansons (four voices; Paris, 1567)
  • Cinquième livre de chansons (four voices; Paris, 1567)
  • Sisième livre de chansons (four to five voices; Paris, 1569)
  • Neuvième livre de chansons (four to six voices; Paris, 1569)

Magnificats and lamentations

  • Magnificat primi toni (four to six voices; Paris, 1557)
  • Lamentationes Jeremiae i (four voices; Paris, 1557)
  • Lamentationes Jeremiae ii (four voices; Paris, 1557)
  • Lamentationes Jeremiae iii (four voices; Paris, 1557)

Motets and sacred chansons

  • Numerous individual compositions published between 1532 and 1555; motets in Latin and sacred chansons in French

Media


(Madrigal for four voices; setting of a poem by Michelangelo, from the early 1540s)