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Marc'Antonio Ingegneri was born in Verona, the son of a goldsmith between 1535 and 1536.  In a census taken in 1541, he is named, age 5, along with several other members of the family.  He was educated at the cathedral, where he was probably taught by Jachet de Berchem.  Sometime in the 1550s, he left Verona, heading west for Padua and Venice.  In 1557, he is listed among the string players used for processions at San Marco.

Ingegneri claimed to have been a pupil of Cipriano de Rore, who he could have encountered either in Venice or in Parma, where Rore spent his last years (he died in September 1565).  There is no record of Ingegneri in Parma during the early 1560s, but by 1566 he was in Cremona, a short distance north of Parma on the opposite bank of the Po river.  Nevertheless, a great deal of circumstantial evidence points to Ingegneri's presence in Parma during the first part of the decade.

In 1572, Ingegneri published a five-voice madrigal, 'Hor che 'l ciel e la terra e 'l vento tace', both a musical and a textual parody of Rore's madrigal on Petrarch's sonnet of the same name.  Ingegneri's text describes Tarquinia Molza singing a setting of the sonnet (probably Rore's) on the banks of the Secchia river, which runs through Molza's native city of Modena; it almost certainly documents a known performance by Molza, the first time she sang for Duke Alfonso d'Este of Ferrara.  Ingegneri's madrigal is one of the earliest musical settings that relates to any of the Ferrarese ladies, and it is remarkable for the way it attempts to convey something of the musical elements of her performance.
Although Ingegneri remained in Cremona for the rest of his life, he maintained connections with patrons in Milan, Parma and Verona.  A substantial portion of his madrigal output appears to have been composed with female singers in mind, particularly those works that have texts which are written from a female point of view.  He was also one of the first composers to set a text written specifically for Laura Peverara, 'D'aria un tempo nodrimmi', from his Terzo libro de madrigali a cinque voci, published in 1580.  The text, by Tasso, must have been obtained by Ingegneri in manuscript form, as it was not published until some years later; the setting probably dates from 1574 or before.  In the same year, Ingegneri may have been commissioned by Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma, to write several pieces to celebrate the arrival of Henri III of France, who travelled up the Po on his way between Poland and France, although the planned celebrations never took place.
In 1580, Ingegneri contributed to a manuscript anthology, compiled by the Accademia Filarmonica of Verona to honour Laura Peverara on the occasion of her journey to take up her new position in Ferrara.  Ingegneri's two two-part madrigals are given pride of place at the beginning of the manuscript, as Verona's most distinguished musical 'son'.  He also contributed a madrigal to Tasso's first anthology for Laura, Il lauro secco, published in 1582.  It is clear that Ingegneri's madrigals were known in Ferrara; the ducal library held copies of several volumes, and at least one Ferrarese composer, Paolo Isnardi, produced madrigals in imitation of Ingegneri's, copying musical gestures that would only be recognisable to (and therefore appreciated by) someone who knew the original.
In 1586, Ingegneri dedicated his Primo libro de madrigali a sei voci to Ottavio Farnese; it is in the dedication of this volume that Ingegneri proclaims his tutelage with Rore.  The volume collects together madrigals from at least the previous two decades, two of which are particularly important as evidence that Ingegneri knew of the musical textures being inspired by the female musicians of Parma and Ferrara, and that he had access to the artistic culture of Ferrara.  'Mirate occhi miei' begins with 16 breves of virtuosic music for three high voices alone, a texture that became associated with the concerto di dame; however, the madrigal was published before the arrival of Laura Peverara at Ferrara.  This suggests one of two possibilities:  that the Ferrarese ladies of the 1570s (particularly Lucrezia Bendidio and Leonora Sanvitale) had already achieved a certain renown among musicians in northern Italy; or that Ingegneri's connections with the Farnese court had given him an early experience of ladies' singing, particularly that of Molza and Sanvitale.  A setting of Giambattista Guarini's madrigal 'O bel guardo d'Amore', which anthropomorphises the d'Este palace of Belriguardo, is perhaps even more intriguing.  Ingegneri must have had access to a manuscript copy of the text, as it was not published until 1598, but he does not set it in a fashion that suggests performance by women.  Instead, five of the six voices are in clefs normally suitable only for male performance (including two bass voices).
Ingegneri was a member of the Cremonese Accademia degli Animosi.  When the Animosi disbanded in 1586, his impetus for composing - or at least publishing - secular music seems to have decreased.  After a valedictory publication, the Quinto libro de madrigali a cinque voci of 1587, was dedicated to the Accamedia Filarmonica in Verona, Ingegneri published no more madrigals, although he was to live for another five years.  A posthumous sixth volume, issued in 1606 and dedicated by one of his pupils, presumably collected together remaining manuscripts.


Bibliography references (primary and musical sources):   Ingegneri, 1572; Ingegneri, 1578; Ingegneri, 1580; Ingegneri, 1586; Biblioteca dell'Accademia Filarmonica, Verona, MS220

Bibliography references (secondary sources):  DurMart, 2000; Newcomb, 1975; Paget (Stras), 1995; Stras, 1999; Stras, 2000; Stras, 2002


Written by Laurie Stras.

Last updated 08 October, 2002.

The views expressed in this document are those of the author and not those of the University of Southampton.