ARCADELT, Jacques

(c. 1505-1568)
A composer and singer known primarily for his Italian madrigals, Jacques Arcadelt was probably born in France, and French was probably his native language. His music first appears shortly after 1530. He was in Florence at the court of Alessandro de' Medici for much of that decade, but came to Rome by 1539. He joined the papal chapel, the Cappella Sistina, in 1540 and left in 1551 for France. He was the single most prolific composer in the chapel during his tenure. Arcadelt served Charles of Lorraine (later archbishop of Rheims) as early as 1544 until 1562 and also perhaps served the French king as well. He died in retirement in Paris. Among the offices he held at his death were canonries at St. Germain l'Auxerrois, Notre Dame in Paris, and Rheims.
The publication of his first book of madrigals in 1538 is most important, for it marks the beginnings of true commercialism in music. Beginning with Gar-dano in Venice, most major Italian music printers reproduced this collection for over one hundred years. At first the madrigals were for the entertainment of the middle and upper classes, but later they came to be used for pedagogy. Their light, engaging style is largely responsible for their popularity. His French chansons employed the same style. Arcadelt's output, besides the countless number of madrigals, includes over 120 secular chansons, 3 masses, 24 motets, 3 lam­entation lessons, a magnificat, and 2 French sacred settings.
His motets reveal a style that has the breadth and seriousness that one expects from church music, yet with the clear phrase articulations one finds in the mad­rigal. Despite fugal imitation, the text settings are clear. Arcadelt uses contrast­ing chordal sections for further textual emphasis. At least nine of his motets were composed for the Cappella Sistina, notably Domine non secundum peccata, the tract for Ash Wednesday, Pater noster, and Corona aurea, which was per­formed at coronations and investitures into the eighteenth century. His masses were also probably composed in Rome, as they are based on models found in the Cappella Sistina's repertory.
Bibliography
J. Arcadelt, Opera omnia, ed. A. Seay, Corpus Mensurabilis musicae 31, 10 vols., 1965­71.
A. Seay, "Jacques Arcadelt," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. S. Sadie, vol. 1, 1980: 546-50.
Mitchell Brauner

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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