Arcadelt was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in both Italy and France, and principally known for writing secular vocal music. Although 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; later reprints of his first madrigal book were often used for teaching, with reprints appearing more than a century after its original publication.