22 March 2024

Giaches de Wert

I absolutely love, even after all these years of exploring music before 1750, to "discover" new composers from the past who have been neglected, by the music "establishment," and by me. My latest discovery is Giaches de Wert, a Flemish composer whose life spanned most of the 16th century (died 1596), and who spent most of his adult life in Italy. He was a tremendous influence on the great Monteverdi, but his music is just wonderful entirely on its own. Less famous than Gesualdo or even Vecchio, and certainly than the "greats" of the century, Palestrina, Lassus, Victoria, etc., I would take his music to a desert island over all of them.... except Monteverdi of course. But I count Monteverdi as primarily a 17th century composer (d. 1643), and the greatest of that century; rivaled only by the greatest German composer before Bach,  Heinrich Schütz (d. 1672, at the age of 87). De Wert was definitely one of if not the bes of the nearly forgotten geniuses of the "high renaissance of music" in the Italian courts of Ferrara and Mantua in the 16th century. Gesualdo was more daring, no doubt, but de Wert has this lovely graciousness and even humor, as well as a profoundly emotional musical language without resorting to what could, even then, be considered gimmicks of chromaticism. 

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