8th March 1566
8th September 1613
Carlo Gesualdo, known as Gesualdo di Venosa or Gesualdo da Venosa, Prince of Venosa and Count of Conza, was an Italian nobleman, lutenist, composer, and murderer. As a composer of the late Renaissance, he is remembered for writing intensely expressive madrigals and sacred music that use a chromatic language not heard again until the late 19th century. The murders he committed are the most notorious carried out by any musician. The evidence that Gesualdo was tortured by guilt for the remainder of his life is considerable, and he may have given expression to it in his music. One of the most obvious characteristics of his music is the extravagant text setting of words representing extremes of emotion: "love", "pain", "death", "ecstasy", "agony" and other similar words occur frequently in his madrigal texts, most of which he probably wrote himself. While this type of word-painting is common among madrigalists of the late 16th century, it reached an extreme development in Gesualdo's music.