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Giovanni de Macque

Giovanni de Macque (Giovanni de Maque, Jean de Macque) (1548/1550 – September 1614) was a Netherlandish composer of the late Renaissance and early Baroque, who spent almost his entire life in Italy. He was one of the most famous Neapolitan composers of the late 16th century; some of his experimentation with chromaticism was likely influenced by Gesualdo, who was an associate of his.


  • Life 1
  • Music and influence 2
  • References and further reading 3
  • External links 4


Macque was born in Marenzio, and his early book of serious madrigals show Marenzio's influence.

Macque moved to Spanish viceroy (Naples was a Spanish possession at the time); in 1599 he became maestro di cappella at the Chapel Royal of Naples. While maestro di cappella he taught many of the later Neapolitan composers, including Luigi Rossi.

Music and influence

Macque was a prolific madrigalist, who published 12 separate books of madrigals, although the numbering is confusing: for example the Primo libro de madrigali, for six voices, dates from 1576 in Venice, while another Primo libro de madrigali, for four voices, dates from 1587. After 1585, when he moved to Naples, his music shifted from the conservative Roman style to the more progressive Neapolitan one; perhaps he began renumbering his publications based on his stylistic change. His early and late madrigals include both light and serious music and often require virtuoso singing skill; likely some of these pieces were intended for performance by the concerto di donne, the three virtuoso female singers at the ducal Este court at Ferrara, which had a strong musical connection with Naples throughout the 1590s.

After 1599, his music shifted in style again; Macque began experimenting with chromaticism of the kind found in Gesualdo's madrigals. Most likely the nobleman influenced Macque, but it is possible that some of the influence went the other way, since dating of Gesualdo's individual compositions is difficult, due to his publication of his work in large blocks, many years apart. Some of the madrigals Macque wrote after 1599 include "forbidden" melodic intervals (such as sevenths), chords entirely outside of the Renaissance modal universe (such as F# major) and melodic passages in consecutive chromatic semitones.

In addition to his madrigals, he was a prolific composer of instrumental music, writing Gesualdo: the Consonanze stravaganti (exact date unknown, probably early 17th century) is a particularly good example. See Grout (1) for an extended example from this composition.

Macque also wrote sacred music, including a book of motets for five to eight voices, litanies, laudi spirituali, and contrafactum motets (motets originally in another language, fitted with new texts known as contrafacta).

References and further reading

  • W. Richard Shindle, "Giovanni de Macque", in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1980. ISBN 1-56159-174-2
  • (subscription required) Note: this article contains some new information not included in the 1980 New Grove article by the same author.
  • Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0-393-09530-4
  • (1) Donald Jay Grout, A History of Western Music. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1980. ISBN 0-393-95136-7
  • Catherine Deutsch, , Ph.D. Univ. Paris-Sorbonne, 2007.Ariosità et artificiosità dans les madrigaux de Giovanni de Macque (1581-1597)

External links

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