Carlo Gesualdo (1566–1613)

New Gesualdo Edition

The Edition

Carlo Gesualdo (Venosa 1566 – Gesualdo 1613) was one of the most significant Italian aristocrats of his time; he was Prince of Venosa and simultaneously “Prince of musicians”. Together with Monteverdi he was considered the greatest composer at the turn of the 16th to 17th century, his personality attracting attention from intellectuals and artists both because of his tormented existence and the exceptional quality of his work. As early as the year of his death, an esteemed director of music from Genoa, Simone Molinaro, produced a score of his five books of 5 and 6-voice madrigals, designating them as models for the study of counterpoint and composition. In the last century, Igor Stravinsky’s enthusiasm for the daring chromatic writing of Gesualdo gave rise to a true “Gesualdo  Renaissance”, greatly attracting the attention of scholars and listeners to the complex vocal polyphony of the Prince. Since then, a long series of research projects have been undertaken.
However, despite their historical significance, the editions of Carlo Gesualdo di Venosa’s works published so far, have turned out to be inadequate in terms of textual criticism. Hence the urgent need for a truly critical edition carried out on the basis of concise modern methods and suited to the needs of both scholarly research and historically informed performance practice.

The music of Gesualdo is handed down in precious part-book prints produced by two famous 16th-century printers: Vittorio Baldini, private printer of Ercole II d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, as well as Giovanni Giacomo Carlino, a well-known Neapolitan printer, whom Gesualdo asked to move to his village to print his last three part-books. Unfortunately, not all the first editions have survived in their entirety, hence the need to examine the surviving editions which immediately followed in order to reconstruct the complete musical texts. These reprints are also significant because they document the wide circu lation that the music of Gesualdo, in particular his madrigals, enjoyed from the beginning. Aside from the six books of five-part madrigals (a posthumous six-part book is unfortunately incomplete), three books by Gesualdo with sacred music of the same artistic level but not so experimental, composed at the Castle of Gesualdo, as well as some of his vocal and instrumental compositions found in anthologies or manuscripts have survived.

The new critical edition

starts with a review of all existing printed and manuscript sources, and proceeds to evaluate their degree of authoritativeness for the very first time. The very first editions  are the preferred sources, since they were all issued under the direct supervision of Gesualdo. Molinaro’s “Partitura” is also taken into account for its unquestionable historical significance and as evidence of Gesualdo’s reception in modern times.

Editorial principles

The “New Gesualdo Edition” sets itself a twofold aim: to provide both a practical modern edition for performers as well as an in-depth research tool for scholars.

In order to achieve this, the edition:
•  is based on the prints supervised by the composer, if available;
•  provides a score transcription structured according to the tactus principle;
•  presents poetic texts which enable their study with regard to literary aspects and musical application;
•  breaks down the various levels of the genesis and reception processes regarding the poetic and musical texts in the apparatus.

Special attention is paid to “alterations”, for which the original “Gesualdian system” has been restored. Given the importance of Molinaro’s “Partitura” and its distinctive division into “caselle”, the new edition, in the six madrigal volumes, presents these divisions by means of a dotted line above each first pentagram exactly as it appears in the 1613 “Partitura”.

Publication Schedule

Beginning with the volume “Madrigali a cinque voci. Libro quinto” which will be published in 2018, approximately two volumes will appear per year.

Please find an overview here.

Executive Editors

Maria Caraci Vela · Dinko Fabris · Agostino Ziino

Scholarly Advisory Commitee

Claudio Abbado † / Honorary Chairman

Glenn Watkins / Chairman

Maria Caraci Vela · Dinko Fabris · Iain Fenlon · Anthony Newcomb · Philippe Vendrix · Agostino Ziino

Subscription Guidelines

The edition will comprise twelve volumes.
They can be purchased individually or the whole series can be subscribed to at reduced prices.

Each volume contains a Preface (Ital / Eng), a facsimile section, a critical edition of the texts set to music as well as a Critical Commentary (Ital / Eng).

Format 23 x 30 cm, linen-bound

The »New Gesualdo Edition« is made possible by the generous support of the following institutions:

Comitato per le Celebrazioni Gesualdine – Regione Basilicata

Fondazione Carlo Gesualdo – Regione Campania