wert in huff

Giaches de Wert

Giaches de Wert (1535 – May 6, 1596) was a Franco-Flemish composer active in Italy. He was one of the leaders in developing the style of the late Renaissance madrigal.


He was probably born in Weert, near Antwerp, and went to live in Italy when he was still a child. He was a choir boy at the chapel of Maria di Cardona in Naples, and then was a pupil of Cypriano de Rore at the court of the Este in Ferrara (ca. 1550–1555). Subsequently he was briefly engaged at the courts of Novellara, Mantua and Parma.

In 1565, he entered the service of the Gonzaga in Mantua and became choir master at the ducal chapel of S. Barbara where he stayed until 1592. He was succeeded by Gastoldi.

His private life was stormy; his wife deserted him, and he had an ill-fated love affair with Tarquinia Molza, a singer at the Ferrara court.

Music and influence

De Wert wrote over 230 madrigals and other secular works (published in 16 volumes 1558–1608), as well as over 150 sacred pieces (motets, hymns etc.) which demonstrate his contrapuntal mastery.

Stylistically, his madrigals were among the most advanced of the time: in the 1580s, he was one of the leaders in developing a new, expressive, emotionally intense style, along with Luzzasco Luzzaschi and Luca Marenzio, a style which culminated in the work of Monteverdi and Gesualdo. He tends to use a homophonic texture in his madrigals, although never exclusively; passages of polyphony appear as an animating contrast. In his latest works, in the 1590s, he began experimenting with the new concertato style, with groups of voices in dialogue.

De Wert stands between Cypriano de Rore and Claudio Monteverdi, who worked under him at Mantua and whom he greatly influenced.

He died in Mantua.

References and further reading

  • "Giaches de Wert", in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1980. ISBN 1-56159-174-2
  • Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0-393-09530-4


  • Heavenly Spheres, CBC Records, MVCD 1121, sung by Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal. Contains two six-voice motets by Wert, Ascendente Jesu in naviculam and Peccavi super numerum.

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