Circa 1507–1568
Jacob Arcadelt


The Lute Player
Reading music by Arcadelt


Arcadelt was a Fran­co-Flem­ish com­pos­er of the Re­nais­sance, ac­tive in both It­a­ly and France, and prin­ci­pal­ly known for writ­ing se­cu­lar vo­cal mu­sic.

Though he al­so wrote sac­red vo­cal mu­sic, he was one of the most fa­mous of the ear­ly com­pos­ers of ma­dri­gals. His first book of ma­dri­gals, pub­lished with­in a de­cade of the ap­pear­ance of the ear­li­est ex­am­ples of the form, was the most wide­ly print­ed col­lec­tion of ma­dri­gals of the en­tire era.

In ad­di­tion to his work as a ma­dri­gal­ist, and dis­ting­uish­ing him from the oth­er pro­mi­nent ear­ly com­pos­ers of ma­dri­gals—Phi­lippe Ver­de­lot and Co­stan­zo Fes­ta—he was eq­ual­ly pro­li­fic and adept at com­pos­ing chan­sons, par­ti­cu­lar­ly late in his ca­reer when he lived in Pa­ris.

Arcadelt was the most in­fl­uen­tial mem­ber of the ear­ly phase of ma­dri­gal com­po­si­tion, the class­ic phase. It was through his pub­li­ca­tions, more than those of any oth­er com­pos­er, that the ma­dri­gal be­came known out­side It­a­ly.

Later com­pos­ers con­sid­ered Ar­ca­delt’s style to rep­re­sent an ideal. Re­prints of his first ma­dri­gal book were oft­en used for teach­ing, with re­prints ap­pear­ing more than a cen­tu­ry af­ter its orig­in­al pub­li­ca­tion.