Costanzo Festa

(c.1480 - 1545)

Italian composer. He served the d'Avalos family on Ischia around 1510 and then seems to have studied with Mouton in Paris. In 1517 he entered the service of the Papal chapel in Rome as a singer, remaining there until his death. He was one of the few native Italians in the choir, which was at this time dominated by musicians from northern Europe.

Festa's surviving output includes four Masses, more than forty motets, thirty hymns, thirteen Magnificats, litanies for double choir, and a large quantity of madrigals. He was one of the principal composers (and again one of the few native Italians) in the generation of early madrigalists. Though one volume of his madrigals is for three voices, the majority are for four, and are characteristic of the early madrigal in their combination of imitative and chordal writing. Festa took up the fashion for note neremadrigals (i.e. with black notes, thus faster crotchet movement). Where he wrote for five voices, his style sometimes harked back to the chansons of Josquin; some such madrigals are written for very low voice ranges, suggesting solo performance with instrumental support. Festa contributed two ceremonial madrigals to the Duke of Florence's wedding entertainment in 1539. He was a distinguished sacred polyphonist, skilfully varying his writing between pervading imitation, non-imitative counterpoint and chordal passages.

Illustration: Costanzo Festa, Collection of Polyphonic Hymns and Magnificats, ca. 1538

A Partial Costanzo Festa Discography   |   IVD: Social Music In Italy