Carlo Gesualdo: Prince of Venosa, musician and murderer

On the 15th of October, Matteo Sansone came to the British Institute of Florence to give a very interesting and interactive presentation on Carlo Gesualdo’s life.

The audience was full, and eager to learn more about the music and personal life of this controversial late Renaissance composer.

The title of the presentation clearly points to the most important aspects of it, those being Gesualdo’s music and his famous “murder” story. For those of you who are curious if the ‘murderer’ is just a metaphor of some sort, just as I would be if I hadn’t been present at the talk, you would be surprised to learn that our famous composer really was a murder, and in fact he killed his own wife. Apparently, his wife was able to keep her affair with her lover from Gesualdo for 2 years, but when he finally caught them in bed together, he decided to murder both of them on the spot and leave them in front of his castle for everybody to see. He could not be punished for that because he was an aristocrat, and he continued his career as a musician which was his life-time passion.

Of course, this side of Gesualdo seems a bit dark, just like his music is (at least that is my personal opinion). Matteo Sansone mentioned that Gesualdo’s music was very revolutionary and experimental for his time and only later in the 19th century did such music become more common. For that reason, Gesualdo had a lot of critics, but his music is very interesting to listen to and in fact like nothing else I have ever experienced. It is really shocking and surprising, full of many deep expressions of emotion even if the topics at times remain commonplace. Matteo played a couple of his songs to the audience, and they all had the same musical style.

There are many places online where you can find Gesualdo’s music. What do you think??

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