Marenzio, Luca



Called by his Italian contemporaries, "il piu dolce Cigno d'ltalia;" born at Coccaglia, between Brescia and Bergamo. The date of his birth is generally placed about 1550 to 1560. He was descended from a noble family of Brescia, to which city he went when very young to study music under the patronage of the Archpriest Andrea Mazetto. He became a choirboy in the cathedral and studied under Contini, then cathedral organist. He began to publish his madrigals in 1581, in Venice, dedicating the first book to the Duke of Ferrara. He became Court musician to King Sigismond III. of Poland, who took great delight in him, paying him one thousand scudi a year for his services, besides giving him the order of knighthood. In 1591 ill health compelled him to give up his post at the Court of Poland and return to Rome. He was warmly welcomed in Rome, and in 1595 he was made cantor to the Pontifical Chapel by Cardinal Cintio Aldobrandino, which position he held until his death, in 1599. He was buried with great pomp at San Lorenzo, in Lucina. He perfected the madrigal, in which form he wrote much music, his principal works being nine books of madrigals for five voices; six books for six voices, each book containing from thirteen to twenty numbers; five books entitled Villanelle e Arie alia Napolitani; a hundred and thirteen numbers for three voices and one for four voices; one book of twenty-one numbers for four voices; and two books of four-part motets. Many of his madrigals were published in England, where they enjoyed great vogue for a while, and where some of them were preserved by the Madrigal Society.