Gesualdo

by Aidan Andrew Dun

The late-renaissance Italian nobleman Carlo Gesualdo, composer of some of the most angular and contorted music ever written, murdered his unfaithful wife in a premeditated orgy of violence, then had her lovechild slain in slow-motion as his melancholy choral compositions were performed at great length in a large courtyard below the nursery. Stravinsky was a great admirer of the music of the Prince of Venosa (pregnant name!).

Jealously driven into evil
can you tell what crimes were done,
Prince of Venosa, cursed one still,
say how love condemned the sun?
Silently you changed the locks;
afterwards destroyed the clocks.
Cut down forests wearing horns;
dreamed new slayings in red dawns:
slew innocence in a three day spree
while madrigals exalting death
stole the lovechild’s laboured breath
as massed choirs in dark ecstasy
sang ‘Moro, lasso,’ demonic hymn,
eerie music, exquisitely grim.

 

 

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