Date of Graduation

Summer 2009


Master of Music



Committee Chair

Michael Murray


madrigal, mannerism, Gesualdo, Monteverdi, music theory, Renaissance

Subject Categories



Claudio Monteverdi's madrigal output between 1590 and 1613 often overshadows the output and contribution of Monteverdi's equally progressive contemporaries. Many composers at the end of the sixteenth century embraced a Mannerist style and began adapting the accepted tonal framework to new perceptions of expression. Carlo Gesualdo and Claudio Monteverdi composed using similar stylistic traits and methods, but Gesualdo's chromatic style and progressive harmonic practices have only recently come under close scrutiny by modern scholars. Gesualdo's use of chromatic harmonies, double suspensions, expressive melodic leaps, and often harsh dissonances shows his adeptness with new emerging compositional practices. Monteverdi's developments of opera caused contemporary audiences to disregard a large amount of "traditional" madrigal output after 1609 (including Gesualdo's final and most progressive collection). Thus, by the end of Gesualdo's life, much of his most expressive work was made obscure by opera. Monteverdi deserves his place among the cadre of innovative composers, but Gesualdo deserves equal footing among modern scholarship.


© Philip Patrick Forrester

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