Philippe Verdelot

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Philippe Verdelot was a French composer of the Renaissance, who spent most of his life in Italy. He was born around 1475 in France, and died sometime before 1552, probably in Florence or Venice.

Details of his life are obscure. He is known to have been maestro di cappella at the Baptisterium San Giovanni in Florence from 1523 to 1525; and he seems also to have been employed at the Cathedral there, from 1523 until 1527. During the period of the Florentine Republic (1527-30) he seems to have sided against the Medici and the papal forces; indeed he may have been killed in the siege of Florence (1529-1530) since there is no definite evidence that he was alive after 1530. Some scholars infer that he was alive until about 1540, based on some ambiguous references to contemporary events in his works published during the 1530s. Several books of madrigals published in Venice in the late 1530s include his work; one of these books is devoted entirely to him. Possibly he moved to Venice after the siege to escape the notoriously vengeful, and victorious, Medici.

Verdelot, along with Costanzo Festa, is considered to be the father of the madrigal, an a cappella vocal form which emerged around 1530 from a convergence of several previous musical streams (including the frottola, the canzone, the laude, and also including some influence from the more serious style of the motet). Verdelot's style balances homophonic with imitative textures, rarely using word-painting, which was largely a later development (though a few interesting foreshadowings can be found). Most of his madrigals are for five or six voices.

Verdelot's madrigals were hugely popular, as can be inferred from their frequency of reprinting and their wide dissemination throughout Europe in the 16th century. He also composed motets and masses.

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