Wert, Giaches de

Geboortedatum: 1535
Sterfdatum: 1596

Giaches de Wert (1535-1596) was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in Italy. His name is especially connected with the development of the late Renaissance madrigal (seconda prattica). He was very influential on various Italian composers, particularly on Claudio Monteverdi.
As usual in the history of his contemporary fellow composers very little is known about his youth and education that took place in the vicinity of Antwerp or Ghent. He was born in 1535. Already as a boy he went to Italy. Probably this was because of his voice, for his first appearance in the records is as a choirboy for Maria di Cardona, the Marquesa de Padulla and wife of Francesco d’ Este, a captain under Charles V. This association with the D’ Este family would last till his death in 1596. He had also strong connections with the Gonzaga family in Mantua. The relationships between the Gonzaga’s and the d’ Este’s was close as well, and so De Wert traveled between these two courts. He traveled between affairs with members of these courts as well. Very many stories are well-known about these families and the Borgias too.
De Wert used poems of the great Italian poets, Pietro Bembo, Ludovico Ariosto and Francesco Petrarca. Later he preferred the poems of Torquato Tasso and Guarini. He wrote sacred music as well as many madrigals, but little of his sacred music was published during his lifetime. Three books of motets survived, seven masses and 127 hymns for Santa Barbara church in Mantua. This work was published in Venice. The style of his sacred music was with an absolute clarity of textual expression, in accordance with the dictates of the Tridentine Council - Mantua being the center of the Counter-Reformation.
But his major activity was writing madrigals: 12 Libri de Madrigali (madrigal books). He wrote two books with ‘flower madrigals’ for 5 voices (Madrigale del Fiore) in 1561, the second of which is available at Donemus. These two books appeared between the first and second ‘regular’ madrigal books.
In his madrigals we see a development from the style of Cipriano de Rore towards the more Venetian style of Andrea Gabrieli. In contrast with the classical Italian composers as Festa, De Wert’s style is more playful and elaborate. We see some experiments with the counterpoint in his polyphonic work.
Cees Wagemakers, 2018