Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Stoycos, Sarah M. "Making an Initial Impression: Lassus's First Book of Five-Part Madrigals." Music &Letters 86 (November 2005): 537-59.

Orlande de Lassus's Primo Libro di Madrigali a cinque voci, published by Antonio Gardano in 1555, was an attempt by Lassus to write serious music in the style of the Venetian masters. He borrowed material from several of Adrian Willaert's madrigals—published only later in the Musica nova from 1559—hoping to attract notice from the Venetian clientele. Because Lassus's earlier madrigal books were published in Rome, some scholars have asserted that Book I à 5 was also printed in an earlier edition. It appears, however, that Lassus intended this manuscript to be published in Venice from the start, evidenced by its borrowings and appeal to Venetian tastes. The poetry within this work is overwhelmingly devoted to Petrarch—a distinctive characteristic in comparison with Lassus's other madrigal collections, however in keeping with Willaert's and Rore's collections. The more extensive use of chromaticism and cross relations in this collection is probably drawn from Rore, while several of Lassus's madrigals show resemblances with Willaert. In Lassus's and Willaert's settings of Pien d'un vago pensier, the melodic and harmonic similarities are striking within the prima parte. In their settings of Cantai, hor piango, both use the same tonal type and evade cadences on the E final. Lassus also uses chromaticism sparingly, following Willaert's restraint with regard to textual expression. Lassus's Book I à 5 is an effort both to pay homage to Willaert and to strengthen his prestige as a composer writing for the Venetian audience.

Works: Lassus: Pien d'un vago pensier (548-52), Cantai, hor piango (552-56).

Sources: Willaert: Pien d'un vago pensier (548-52), Cantai, hor piango (552-56).

Index Classifications: 1500s

Contributed by: Mary Ellen Ryan

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