Jacob Arcadelt


Franco-Flemish composer, who spent much of his life in Italy. After a brief trip to Florence, he sang tenor in the Cappella Giulia, Rome, and was master of the boys there in 1539. He was a singer in the Papal choir in the 1540s and early 1550s, after which he returned north to Paris with Charles of Lorraine, Duc de Guise; in 1555 he had the title 'regius musicus'.

Arcadelt was perhaps the most important of the northern composers who settled in Italy at the time when the madrigal was developing. As a distinguished polyphonist, he brought a contrapuntal element to the song-like chordal Italian style to produce madrigals of balance and polish. The several volumes of 4-part madrigals he published around 1540 were an instant success, and the first book (1539) was reprinted more than thirty times over a period of more than a century; it was this that contained the famous (and beautiful) Il bianco e doice cigno. This illustrates the melodic poise of Arcadelt's madrigals; others show his sensitive use of harmonic coloring and the dissonances characteristic of Franco-Flemish polyphony. His output also included Masses, motets and chansons.

IVD: Social Music in Italy |  IVF: Palestrina and his School | A Partial Jacob Arcadelt Discography