The Kennedy Center

Orazio Vecchi


Orazio Vecchi, born Dec. 6, 1550 was an Italian composer of the Renaissance period who is noted for his compositions of secular vocal music known as madrigals.  He received his religious education in Modena and his musical training from the monk Salvatore Essenga.  In due course, he took his holy orders. 
He had become well known in Venetian society by 1579, at which time his first book of motets was published.  He held a number of maestro di cappella positions at several cathedrals.  Financial difficulties due to family obligations made it necessary for him to secure a position at the Correggio Cathedral in Parma in 1586.   While there, he composed both sacred and secular music.  In 1587, he wrote a satirical autobiographical Capitolo citing his financial problems.
In 1597, a large number of his compositions were published, and in 1598, the Duke Cesare D'Este heard a mass by Vecchi, and he appointed him maestro de corte in Modena.  A great deal of recognition came to Vecchi at this time throughout Italy, but ill health made it impossible to accept an appointment to the court of Emperor Rudolph II.  Despite his illness, he continued composing and fulfilling his commitments to the cathedral in Modena until shortly before his death on Feb. 19, 1605. 
Although he produced distinguished sacred music, Vecchi is renowned for his madrigal-comedies which were a new form of entertainment in the 16th Century, and enormously popular at the time.  They are sometimes regarded as one of the precursors to the development of opera.
Orazio Vecchi