Alfonso Ferrabosco Sr.

  • Born
    18th January 1543
  • Died
    12th August 1588
  • Birthplace
    Bologna, Italy
Alfonso Ferrabosco was an Italian composer, famous for being the main responsible for the growth of the madrigal genre in England. While he did not start the trend there -that really began in 1588 with the publication of Nicholas Yonge's Musica Transalpina- he did plant the seeds for its development. Ferrabosco's style appeared tame and conservative to his Italian counterparts, but it was harmonious with English taste. Most of his madrigals were for five or six voices, light in style, and largely ignored the developments in Italy such as expressive chromaticism and word-painting. Technically they were skillful, and this is the quality that impressed the English commentators the most: "deep skill" was the phrase Thomas Morley used to describe his work when he published several of his compositions in a collection of 1598, ten years after his death. In addition to madrigals, Ferrabosco wrote sacred music, including motets, lamentations, and several anthems, all in a cappella vocal style. He also wrote instrumental music: fantasias, pavans, galliards, In Nomines, and passamezzos.His son, Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger was also a composer. Ferrabosco brought the madrigal to England. While he did not start the madrigal craze there—that really began in 1588 with the publication of Nicholas Yonge's Musica Transalpina, the popularity of which was such that the madrigal instantly became the most prevalent type of composition in England—he did plant the seeds for this development. Ferrabosco's style may have been tame and conservative by the standards of a Marenzio or a Luzzaschi, but it was harmonious with English taste. Most of his madrigals were for five or six voices, were light in style, and largely ignored the progressive developments in Italy such as expressive chromaticism and word-painting. Technically they were skillful, and this is the quality that impressed the English commentators the most: "deep skill" was the phrase Thomas Morley used to describe his work when he published several of his compositions in a collection of 1598, ten years after his death. In addition to the madrigals, Ferrabosco wrote sacred music, including motets, lamentations, and several anthems, all in a cappella vocal style. He also wrote instrumental music: fantasias, pavans, galliards, In Nomines, and passamezzos, for a variety of instrumental combinations including lute and viols.

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