Friday, October 24, 2008

The Composer Who Murdered His Wife

For those of you who may not have known, one of the most gifted composers of the late Renaissance, Carlo Gesualdo, was a murderer as well.
His wife entered into a relationship with an aristocrat; actually a Duke, not too long after her marriage to Gesualdo. Unfortunately for both Gesualdo's wife and the Duke, they were both stabbed to death by the composer, who happened upon the two of them in a most delicate situation. As a nobleman, Gesualdo escaped prosecution, but was haunted for the remainder of his life for this deed.
What enhances the poignancy and tragedy of this event is that Carlo Gesualdo was one of the most prescient composers of his time, periodically actually utilizing chromaticism in some of his music, which had been virtually absent in the music of the late Renaissance. I would speculate that the deeper, darker aspects of his music, precipitated by the murders, necessitated the use of increased color in his works, made possible by the chromatics therein.
Again; such as with Beethoven and his deafness - would the music have been as we know it to be, if the tragedy had not occurred?

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