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Carlo Gesualdo Biography

Carlo Gesualdo

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Born: 1566. Died: 1613. Lived in: Italy

Born into the Italian nobility, Don Carlo Gesualdo developed an early and passionate interest in music. Though recognized as a dynamic composer who was far ahead of his time, Gesualdo's brilliance as a musical talent has been overshadowed by his violent personal life. After discovering his wife (and first cousin), the lovely and charming Maria d'Avalos, in the arms of the Duke of Andria, Gesualdo flew into a jealous rage and stabbed them both to death. He fled to northern Italy to avoid persecution, and was never tried nor punished for his crimes. His second wife was Eleonora d'Este, a highborn lady whose powerful family included the Dukes of Ferrara and Modena. Gesualdo treated his second bride as dismally as his first, and his death in 1613 was rumored to have been arranged by the vengeful Eleonora. The incredible chromatic harmony and wild contrasts in his music seem to be a reflection of Gesualdo's temptestuous personality. His mania for constantly composing music may have been a sign of melomania.


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