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Don Carlo Gesualdo


Born in Naples in 1561, Don Carlo Gesualdo is an Italian composer, nobleman and amateur musician, highly notorious for murdering his first wife and her lover. After catching them in bed together he brutally stabbed both and hauled the bodies out for everyone in the palace to see -- a brutal crime unpunishable at the time due to his nobility. Though the transgression is probably what makes him most famous, his intensely expressive madrigals, which employed chromaticism not heard again for nearly 300 years, are also remarkable. Many of the pieces in his six books of madrigals, written between 1594-1611, and his three collections of sacred music, written between 1603-1611, use unexpected harmonies, dissonances, key changes, and highly expressive settings of text. Gesualdo died in isolation, at his castle Gesualdo in Avellino, buried in the church of the Gesu Nuovo, in Naples. The church was nearly destroyed by an earthquake in 1688 and when it was rebuilt Gesualdo's tomb was covered by pavement.
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