Don Carlo Gesualdo (1566 - 1613)

Italian composer of motets (settings for sacred texts) and madrigals (settings for secular texts). As Ernst Krenek once said, "If Gesualdo had been taken seriously in his time as he is now, music history would have taken an entirely different course." From the amazing works of Gesualdo's contemporary Lasso, back to the strange smoking songs of Johannes Symonis and Solage in the 1300s, extreme chromaticism has always been around, and perhaps it's more realistic to view it as a means of expression for some of our more unusual experiences. But the austere, graceful, often slowly developing and surprisingly changing interior feeling of Gesualdo's work exerts the unnameable fascination of an unknown world. Gesualdo's music and bizarre life are still being admired and debated.

He was considered one of the three great Madrigalists of the late 16th century.  The other two being Marenzio and Monteverdi.   Marenzio was more somber and reserved.  Gesualdo was more emotional and passionate, while Monteverdi was somewhere between the two.

(see The Italian Madrigal)