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English Music History The Madrigalian Period - Part 1 by Mike Shaw



The increased intellectual activity, which began soon after the cessation of the Wars of the Roses, reached a climax in the reign of Elizabeth. In no department of art was this more marked than in the case of music.

This increased artistic activity of the Elizabethan age suggests a comparison with the Renaissance impulse of Italy, and indeed Elizabethan England owed not a little of its greatness in art to Italian examples.

This was especially so with music; and the Madrigal, the art form most characteristic of Elizabethan music, was itself an importation from Italy.

Of Provengal origin, the Madrigal was highly esteemed in Italy, and a number of Italian writers excelled in its composition.

Setting aside a few isolated and unimportant examples, which had already appeared, we may say that the first decided introduction of the Madrigal to English music lovers, was effected by the publication of Nicholas Yonge's "Musica Transalpina," in 1588.

This publication of the "Musica" furnished an almost unparalleled impetus to the musical activity of England, and within the next quarter of a century, nearly every composer of any eminence had published one or more sets of madrigals.

Thomas Morley (1557-1604) published a set in 1594. The madrigals of Thomas Weelkes appeared in 1597. Those of John Wilbye, esteemed the greatest of English madrigal writers, appeared in 1598.

Madrigals by John Benet appeared in 1599 and in 1601; there appeared a very remarkable monument of the madrigal writer's art the "Triumphs of Oriana."

Oriana was one of the fanciful names under which the poets and courtiers of Elizabethan reign were wont to sing her praises, and the "Triumphs" was a collection of prize madrigals in her honour by twenty-six English composers of the day.

The publication of madrigals gradually dwindled down after this, but Thomas Bateson, organist of Chester Cathedral, and the first to receive the degree of Mus. Bac. from the University of Dublin, Michael Este, and Orlando Gibbons, great in almost every department of music, all produced sets of madrigals during the early years of the reign of James I.



About the Author:

Mike Shaw is an organist and keyboard player and owns music websites, http://www.mikesmusicroom.co.uk http://www.keyboardsheetmusic.co.uk and http://musical-instruments-uk.mikesmusicroom.co.uk/


Other articles by Mike Shaw



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