Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/202

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190
MADRIGAL.
 

were succeeded by two books of sæcular Madrigals of exquisite beauty, and a charming set of Canzonette, for three and four Voices, issued in 1603. Francesco Anerio, and the brothers, Giovanni Maria, and Bernardino Nanini, contributed a large store of volumes of equal merit. Ruggero Giovanelli turned his genius to good account: and the Roman School, now in its highest state of perfection, boasted many other Madrigalists of superlative excellence. Foremost among these stood Luca Marenzio, who devoted his best energies to the advancement of sæcular Art; producing nine books of Madrigals for five Voices, between the years 1580 and 1589, six, for six Voices, within a very few years afterwards, and many later ones, all of which were so well appreciated, that, even during his lifetime, he was honoured with the well-earned title of Il più dolce Cigno d'Italia. The style of this 'Sweetest Swan' was, by nature, a little less grave than that of Palestrina: but, like that great Master, he possessed the happy faculty of accommodating it to all possible circumstances, and did so with such unvarying success, that he may be justly regarded as the most satisfactory representative of the Third Roman Period. His little Madrigal, Vezzosi augelli, scored, by P. Martini, in the second volume of his Soggio di Contrappunto, is a miracle of prettiness, and contrasts strangely enough with the deep sadness displayed in the opening bars of his Ahi! dispietata morte!

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Ahi! dispieta morte!

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But it was not in Rome alone that the Madrigal was cultivated with success. It found an equally congenial home in Venice, where it was first introduced by Adrian Willaert, who, though by birth and education a Fleming, did so much for the City of his adoption that he is universally represented as the Founder of the great Venetian School. His influence, and that of his countryman, and faithful disciple, Cipriano di Rore, may be traced throughout its entire course, from beginning to end. Even in the works of Giovanni Croce it is clearly perceptible, notwithstanding the marked individuality which places the stamp of independent genius on everything he wrote. Andrea Gabrieli, and his nephew, Giovanni, Fra Costanzo Porta, and Orazio Vecchi, were all deeply imbued with the same spirit; Hans Leo Hasler carried it to Nuremberg, where it wrought a good and lasting work; and Gastoldi—believed, by Morley, to have been the inventor of the 'Fa la'—was, really, no more than the exponent of an idea which had already been freely used by Willaert, and more than one of his immediate followers. It may, in truth, be said, that Flemish Art failed to attain its full maturity, until it was transplanted from the Netherlands to Venice. All honour to the great Republic for developing its rich resources. It was a glorious trust committed to her; and she fulfilled it nobly.

In Florence, the Madrigal attained a high degree of popularity—at first, in the form of the Frottola, which, Cerone tells us, is to be distinguished from the true Madrigal by the poverty of its contrapuntal artifices—afterwards, in the more fully developed productions of Franceso Corteccia, Matteo Rampollini, Pietro Masacconi, and Baccio Moschini. But its course, here, was brought to an untimely close, by a growing passion for instrumental accompaniment which entirely destroyed the old Florentine love for pure vocal music. In Naples, it flourished brilliantly; though rather in the shape of the Villanella the—Neapolitan equivalent of Gastoldi's Fa la—than in a more serious guise. In France, it was but slightly prized, notwithstanding the number of Chansons adapted, by the early Netherlanders, to well-known specimens of French popular poetry: and, in Germany, it failed to supplant the national taste for the Volkslied, with which it had very little in common, and which, before the middle of the 16th century, was itself pressed into the service of the all-absorbing Chorale. But, in England, it took root as firmly as ever it had done, either in Rome, or in Venice, and gave rise to a national School which is well able to hold it own against any rival. The old Canon, 'Sumer is i cumen in,' has been cited as a proof that Polyphonic Music originated in England. This position cannot be maintained. The beginnings of Counterpoint have, hitherto, eluded all enquiry. But, we have already shewn that the Madrigal was invented in the Netherlands; and, that the first published fruits of its discovery were issued, at Venice, in 1501. The first Polyphonic Songs that appeared in England were printed, by Wynkyn de Worde, in 1530, in a volume of the existence of which neither Burney nor Hawkins seem to have been aware, though it contains a