WILLAERT, Adrian

(c. 1490-1562)
Adrian Willaert was a versatile and influential Flemish composer and teacher who spent much of his career in Italy, most notably as maestro di cappella of St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice. Born most likely in Bruges, Willaert went to Paris to study law, but soon turned his attention to music. He studied with Jean Mouton, a composer at the royal chapel of Louis XII and Francois I.* Willaert's professional life began with several posts in Rome, Ferrara, and Milan (c. 1515­27) in which he served various members of the powerful Este family. In 1527 he assumed the prestigious post at St. Mark's. There he composed and became teacher to many of Europe's finest young musicians. Among his students were the theorist Gioseffe Zarlino and the composers Cipriano de Rore* and Andrea Gabrieli.
Willaert's versatility can be seen in the wide variety of his music. His sacred works include masses, motets, hymns, settings of the Magnificat, and psalm settings. Of particular interest are his vesper psalms for double chorus, or cori spezzati, designed to exploit the two facing balconies of St. Mark's. In the realm of secular music, Willaert composed French chansons, participated in the early development of the Italian madrigal, and contributed to the rise of purely in­strumental music with his nine ricercares. His Musica nova of 1559, a collection of thirty-three motets and twenty-five madrigals, is considered to be one of his most significant works. The fluid polyphony of Willaert's mature works is often seen as the culmi­nation of Renaissance prima prattica style. His techniques for his text setting, characterized by careful attention to declamation and to creating the appropriate musical mood, laid the foundation for the Renaissance madrigal and for much vocal music of the late baroque period.
Bibliography
L. Lockwood and J. Owens, "Adrian Willaert," in S. Sadie, ed., The New Grove Dictionary ofMusic and Musicians, vol. 20, 1980: 421-28.
Tucker Robison

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

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