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(2) Alfonso Ferrabosco (i)

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(2) Alfonso Ferrabosco (i)

(b Bologna, bap. 18 Jan 1543; d Bologna, 12 Aug 1588). Italian composer, eldest son of (1) Domenico Maria Ferrabosco. He served Queen Elizabeth I as a courtier between 1562 and 1578, and for musicians in post-Reformation England he came to personify the more serious side of Italian musical art.

1. Life.

2. Works.



Ferrabosco: (2) Alfonso Ferrabosco (i)

1. Life.

In 1552, as a means of subsidizing the Ferrabosco family, the Bologna Senate gave to the nine-year-old Alfonso the sinecure of supervising the issue of immigration permits (Soprastante all’ufficio delle bollette per la presentazione dei forestieri). He probably spent some time in Rome, where his father worked, in the early 1550s, but after the exclusion of married singers from the Cappella Sistina in 1555 it seems that the family went to France (Kerman, 1994), where Alfonso and two of his brothers were taken under the powerful patronage of Charles de Guise, Cardinal of Lorraine. By 1558 the performances of the boys, singing à l’antique to their own accompaniment, were being celebrated by poets of the Pléiade. Ronsard, in his Hymne de Charles, Cardinal de Lorraine, wrote of the pleasure to be had:

Et du geste, & du son, & de la voix ensemble

Que ton Ferabosco sur trois lyres assemble,
Quand les trois Apollons chantant divinement,
Et mariant la lyre à la voix doucement.

The ‘trois Pharabosques Italiens’ probably took part in the wedding festivities of the dauphin and Mary Queen of Scots, in April 1558, and of Princess Elisabeth and Felipe II of Spain in June 1559. They were also assigned roles in Du Bellay’s Epithalame for the wedding of Marguerite, sister of King Henri II, to Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy in July 1559; an epithalamium by Etienne Jodelle for the same occasion seems to single out Alfonso as an expert chorister.

By 1562 Alfonso was in England: on 28 March he was paid £20 as ‘one of the Q[ueen’s] Music[i]ons’, and from 15 March he received an annuity of 100 marks (£66 13s 4d), but this ceased on 29 September 1563 because he returned to Italy. On his father’s recommendation he was taken into the service of Cardinal Farnese in Rome (although it is unclear whether this was Alessandro, the more senior of the two Farnese cardinals, or Ranuccio, who in April 1564 was appointed Bishop of Bologna). In any case it seems that by June 1564 Alfonso was keen to return to England, but the cardinal was reluctant to release him, so it was decided that he should leave the country secretly. Before the end of the year he had resumed his place at the English court and his annuity was restored.

Alfonso's services at the court were evidently highly valued, for his annual pension was raised to £100 from midsummer 1567 and guaranteed for life, on the condition that he remain in England unless permitted to travel abroad (B.M. Ward: ‘Alphonso Ferrabosco’, Review of English Studies, viii, 1932, pp.201–2; cf AshbeeR, vi, 19). Later documents refer to him as a groom of the Privy Chamber. In 1569 he left the country for Italy, ostensibly to attend to his affairs in Bologna, having signed a bond (endorsed by Sir William Cecil, Secretary of State) promising to return and not to leave the queen’s service. In June 1569 he reported to Cecil from Paris that he had entrusted some business to one of his brothers with whom he was travelling to Italy, and that he had been robbed of his possessions, but that he planned to depart within three days. By October he was in Bologna, and he was still there a year later. His stay coincided with a low point in relations between England and the papacy, and on 28 September 1570 he wrote to Cecil explaining that departure without a licence would expose his family to punishment by the Inquisition. Nevertheless he did leave, apparently without licence, and by midsummer 1571 was in London, where he personally collected his annuity.

In June 1572 he took a leading part in a masque given before the queen and the French ambassador at Whitehall to celebrate the Treaty of Blois. In October 1574 he sought permission to return to Bologna, following his father’s death, for he feared that the Inquisition would seize his inheritance. He may have travelled as far as France, but Domenico Maria’s estate was settled in Alfonso’s absence. In November 1575, in his capacity as a groom of the Privy Chamber, he met a diplomatic mission from Venice and conveyed messages of goodwill from the queen; its members reported to the Venetian senate that he enjoyed ‘great favour with her Majesty on account of his being an excellent musician’ (Charteris, 1984, p.14). For some reason, however, his annuity was halved to £50 from midsummer 1576.

On 23 September 1577 Ferrabosco complained to the Earl of Sussex that he had recently found himself excluded from the privileged access to the queen’s apartments to which his position normally entitled him. The cause of his disgrace was apparently a report that he had attended Mass at the residence of the French ambassador. Writing shortly afterwards to William Cecil (now Lord Burghley) he admitted meeting the ambassador, but insisted that his visits were not secret and that his motives had been misconstrued. A fortnight later it was whispered that he had robbed and murdered a youth in the service of Sir Philip Sidney, a charge that he vehemently repudiated. Eventually, in December, Sidney himself interceded on behalf of the ‘poore stranger musicien’, bringing a reassuring response: the queen was prepared to accept his innocence, and he would shortly be able to return to court. He remained despondent, however, complaining that his reputation had been sullied both in England and abroad.

Ferrabosco married Susanna Symons (daughter of one Balthasar de Simonibus of Antwerp) at St Botolph Aldgate on 2 May 1578. Shortly afterwards the couple left England, having placed two young children, (5) Alfonso Ferrabosco (ii) and a daughter, in the care of Gomer van Awsterwyke (or Gommar van Oostrewijck), a musician from Antwerp who had joined the queen’s flute consort several years earlier, and his wife. This was a family of good Protestant credentials, and it is likely that Ferrabosco was obliged to leave the children behind as hostages against his return. By 23 June he was in Paris as a musician in the entourage of Cardinal Louis de Guise. His arrival in Paris was reported by the papal nuncio, Anselmo Dandino. Ferrabosco had told Dandino because of his mother’s death the queen had given him leave of absence to visit Bologna, but that despite his reinstatement at her court he had decided not to return to London. He had declared his adherence to the Catholic faith, his secret attendances at confession and at Mass in London, and his desire to obtain the Church’s pardon. Nevertheless, Dandino was unconvinced: he suspected Ferrabosco of being a spy for the English, and arranged to have him watched.

On 30 September 1578 Ferrabosco set out for Italy, leaving Susanna in the care of his brother Anfione, who was a musician to the French king. Soon after arriving he was imprisoned in Rome by the order of the Pope on the grounds of apostasy and defection. Despite indications over the following year that he might soon be freed (including his wife’s arrival in Italy), it was not until February 1580 that he was freed on parole, with permission to go to Bologna (Mateer, 1996, p.31).

Sometime between September 1580 and August 1581 Ferrabosco entered the service of Carlo Emanuele I, Duke of Savoy. During the same period Alfonso and Susanna had a son, named Carlo Emanuele after the duke. The earliest recorded payment to Alfonso from the ducal treasury seems to be for his livery allowance from January 1582; subsequent court documents refer to him as ‘nostro musico e gentilhuomo di bocca’ (‘our musician and gentleman-in-waiting’). On 5 February 1582 he wrote to Queen Elizabeth from Turin asking for a just settlement of his financial affairs and thanking her for her compassion towards his son Alfonso (ii). Further letters to Lord Burghley and Sir Francis Walsingham later that year were concerned mainly with unresolved financial and legal matters.

At the beginning of 1585 he accompanied the Duke of Savoy to Spain for the duke’s wedding on 11 March in Zaragoza Cathedral, where Alfonso seems to have made a favourable impression on the master of the Spanish royal chapel, George de La Hèle; the court returned to Turin in June. Between October and the following February diplomatic efforts were made to return Alfonso (ii) to his father, but the queen was not persuaded. On 6 March 1586 the duke recognized Ferrabosco’s good and faithful service by converting his annual allowance into a life pension, to be continued for the lifetime of either Carlo Emanuele (‘his legitimate and natural son’) or of Alfonso (‘his first-born’).

In 1587 two books of five-part madrigals by him were published. The first, dated 25 May, was dedicated to the Duke of Savoy; the second, dated 4 September, was dedicated to the duchess. In the following year, in company with such composers as Ingegneri, Luzzaschi and Marenzio, he contributed to L’amorosa Ero, a collection of madrigals based on a poem (‘Ero così dicea’) by Count Marc’Antonio Martinengo of Villachiara. Between 1585 and 1588 he completed a literary work, the Historia d’Altimauro, again dedicating the two parts to the duke and duchess respectively; the manuscript was badly damaged in a fire in 1904, but a fragment survives in Turin (I-Tn). Ferrabosco died during a visit to Bologna, aged 45, and is buried there in the church of S Isaia. His widow Susanna received a pension of 200 scudi from 1588 to 1596, and his brother Anfione was appointed musico ordinario at the Savoy court in his place.

Ferrabosco’s career brought him into proximity with powerful figures on both sides of the religious divide during the Counter-Reformation. Elizabeth I prized him for his diplomatic as well as his musical skills, went to exceptional lengths to retain his allegiance and, in an effort to obtain his release from prison in 1580, even persuaded Catherine de’Medici to intercede with the pope on his behalf; he enjoyed the protection of the Guise family and, in later years, the Duke of Savoy, and he kept his links with his native Bologna throughout his life. The inference that he was a secret agent, perhaps even a double agent, relies largely on circumstantial evidence, apart from Dandino’s assertion that Elizabeth made ‘much use of him for spying and scheming’ (‘se ne serve assai per spiare et ordire qualche cosa’). The interest that William Cecil – whom he called his ‘Prottettore’ – took in his foreign trips suggests that he may have been used as a courier and gatherer of intelligence for the English government. It would not be surprising if the authorities in Bologna or Paris, in their turn, had tried to reap advantage from his position at Elizabeth’s court, although nothing suggests that his friends and patrons in England regarded his decampment and reconciliation with the Roman Catholic church as perfidious, or considered him a traitor. Like others in similar positions, Ferrabosco was faced with conflicts of affection, loyalty and conscience, towards his family, the queen and his faith.

Apart from a few anthologies that included pieces by him, no publications of Ferrabosco’s music appeared before 1587. Consequently his work was not well known on the Continent, but in England he was held in high regard. A Latin poem by Sir Ferdinando Heybourne (Ferdinand Richardson) in the 1575 Cantiones of Tallis and Byrd hails him as ‘Alfonso, phoenix of our age, creator of songs to which Apollo might lay claim’ (‘Temporis Alphonsum nostri Phaenica creare / Carmina, quae Phoebus vendicet esse sua’). John Baldwin, in verses in praise of music’s ‘fam[o]us men’ (GB-Lbl R.M.24.d.2), awarded him pride of place among foreign composers; Morley extolled him as ‘a great musition, famous and admired for his works amongst the best’ (A Plaine and Easie Introduction, 1597).

Ferrabosco’s reputation as a singer and instrumentalist never reattained the height of his teenage stardom in France. It seems reasonable to assume that he played the lute (and probably the bandora too). However, unlike his compatriot Antonio Conti he was never regarded as one of the queen’s lutenists, and little is written about him as an adult performer, perhaps because of the private nature of his performances.

Ferrabosco: (2) Alfonso Ferrabosco (i)

2. Works.

(i) Sacred vocal music.

Ferrabosco’s Latin sacred music comprises several dozen motets and four sequences of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, but no masses. Most of it survives solely in manuscripts of English provenance, but a few items were printed in German anthologies, one of which (RISM 15832) includes a motet not found in English sources, O lux beata Trinitas, perhaps owing to the presence of his cousin Costantino in Nuremberg, where the collection was printed. None of the manuscripts is autograph. Among the most interesting are the so-called Tregian score-books (GB-Lbl Eg.3665 and US-NYp Drexel 4302), which between them contain more of these pieces than any other source.

By the time he returned to England in 1564 Ferrabosco must have been equipped with a resourceful and fluent contrapuntal technique, no doubt partly learned from study with his father and partly from experience as a singer in France and Italy. Between then and the beginning of 1572 there are signs of a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas between him and Robert Parsons (i), as seen in the five-part Da pacem, Ferrabosco’s only cantus firmus motet, which resembles the cantus firmus pieces of Parsons in the way that the plainchant enters last, as if just another voice in the imitative fabric. Credo quod redemptor is related to Parsons’s setting of the same text; if Ferrabosco’s was the earlier of the two, as has usually been assumed, there could be no more striking tribute to the young Italian than Parsons’s use of the sonorous imitative counterpoint of its opening bars as a model.

Lassus’s early motets furnished Ferrabosco with ideas for several settings of the same or similar texts. In monte Oliveti is related to Lassus’s setting (published 1568), employing the same unusual clef combination and the same mode, and Ferrabosco also alluded to, or parodied, the first ten bars of Lassus’s piece at the opening of his work, as well as echoing the way in which subsequent phrases of the text are treated. Neither uses a cantus firmus. Although Ferrabosco’s motet is impressively sombre and contemplative, Lassus has the edge in rhetorical directness and cogency. Ferrabosco’s Nuntium vobis fero is also closely modelled on Lassus’s setting of the same stanzas, showing a type of treatment not previously found in England (where hymns were usually sung in alternatim settings).

Ferrabosco’s similar setting of another hymn, Ecce jam noctis, was the model for Byrd’s Siderum rector, which shares the same Sapphic verse form and employs the same crotchet movement and note nere notation; while Byrd’s O lux beata Trinitas echoes Ferrabosco’s more complex Aurora diem nuntiat. The competitive but friendly relationship between these two composers is underlined by Morley’s description of their ‘vertuous contention in love betwixt themselves made upon the plainsong of Miserere’. The outcome of this ‘contention’ was 80 canons two-in-one – 40 by each composer – on the Miserere cantus firmus. Thomas East planned to publish these for the use of singers, with a lute intabulation, under the title Medulla Musicke; the book was registered with the Stationers’ Company in 1603, but no copy of it, nor any manuscript of the canons, appears to have survived. Henry Peacham, in The Compleat Gentleman, mentioned the ‘friendly aemulation’ between these two musicians, and Kerman (1962, 1966 and 1981) has noted further instances in Byrd’s music where the older composer had clearly benefited from the stimulus of contact with the much-travelled Italian and his up-to-date motet writing.

To judge from surviving sources, Ferrabosco’s Latin sacred music was sung in England as devotional chamber music in households both Catholic and non-Catholic. Though some texts were drawn from the Office he seems to have scrupulously avoided any that refer to the Virgin Mary or to a saint (Kerman, 1993). His settings of respond texts are not tailored to responsorial performance, and few if any pieces can have been intended for liturgical use. Motets with psalm texts predominate, the largest in scale being Benedic anima mea Domino, a setting of Psalm civ in 11 sections. Its overall design is remarkable, inasmuch as it progresses in effect from G minor (transposed Dorian) to G major (Mixolydian), and its seventh part (‘Posuisti tenebras’) uses a tonal palette covering the hexachordal spectrum from E as fa to E as mi. Another large-scale work, for up to seven voices in six sections, was Inclina Domine aurem tuam (Ps lxxxvi); only three of its sections survive with voices intact, though a fourth is restorable from a lute intabulation (see below). Sombre psalm texts such as Ad Dominum cum tribularer (Ps cxx), Afflictus sum (Ps xxxviii), Tribulationem et dolorem inveni (Ps cxvi) and Exaudi Deus orationem meam (Ps lv) inspired some of Ferrabosco’s most effective pieces; the last, though undated, could be read as a personal outcry at the censures the composer had to face in 1577.

As with the other sacred music, it seems likely that the four Lamentations sequences were not intended for ritual use. This is indicated by the texts: three out of the four sequences use verses freely selected from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, presented in the traditional manner; only the gravely eloquent c65 has as its text a shortened version of the first lectio appointed for Maundy Thursday. No use appears to be made of the tonus lamentationum. In two sequences (c65, c66) Ferrabosco employed low voice ranges that exactly match those of Tallis’s first set of Lamentations.

His only securely attributed English sacred work, O remember not our old sins, is on a penitential psalm text from the Book of Common Prayer, and is in a largely syllabic, imitative style. It may have been sung in Elizabeth’s Chapel Royal, though the only surviving manuscript sources (GB-Och Mus.56–60 and US-NYp Drexel 4302) are secular anthologies.

(ii) Secular vocal music.

The influence of continental composers predominates in Ferrabosco’s secular works. His French songs owe much to Lassus: three of the texts, Las, voulez vous, Le rossignol and Susanne un jour had already been set by Lassus, and the last of these is in a long line of settings of Guéroult’s chanson spirituelle that derive from and pay homage to Didier Lupi’s setting. Ferrabosco’s setting of this and Le rossignol were published in English translations in Yonge’s Musica transalpina (1588) along with Lassus’s versions; Byrd reciprocated with his own settings in Songs of Sundrie Natures (1589). Ferrabosco’s Auprès de vous was published by Le Roy & Ballard (15722); perhaps it was a product of his stay in Paris in 1569. One further chanson by Ferrabosco, a presumed six-voice setting of Sur la rousée fault aller, survives without text as one of the ‘solfainge songes’ in GB-Lbl Add.31390, and with the title ‘Sur la rossee’ in GB-Cfm 734.

Apart from his two books of Madrigali a cinque of 1587, his contribution to L’amorosa Ero and a couple of items that found their way into continental anthologies, Ferrabosco’s madrigals survive almost exclusively in sources of English origin, either in manuscript or in posthumous prints such as Musica transalpina (1588, 1597) and Morley’s Madrigals to Five Voyces (1598). As these English sources were all compiled after Ferrabosco left England they give little clue to when the madrigals were actually composed. Nevertheless, as Kerman’s studies have shown, the six-part madrigals form a homogeneous group – earnest and academic in their literary taste, rather Roman in their well-crafted polyphony – and probably date from the 1560s or early 1570s. Vergine bella, a huge setting of Petrarch’s 11-stanza canzone, was perhaps a product of his sojourn in Bologna in 1569–70: a madrigal cycle addressed to the Virgin Mary is unlikely to have been sung in Elizabethan England. As well as Petrarch sonnets there are settings of poems by Sannazaro, Bembo and Ariosto. In Grave pene in amor, which draws its text from Ariosto’s Orlando furioso, a recurring melody is sung by two trebles, in order to suggest the traditional recitation tones of Italian epic verse. A similarly high-minded approach characterizes the five-part madrigals of his English period.

The two books of 1587 marked a new phase in Ferrabosco’s madrigal production. Although there are references to his earlier ‘English’ works, such as five-part settings of three texts that he had previously set for six voices, the collections are lent a more up-to-date flavour by the inclusion of three settings of madrigal texts by Tasso. While Ferrabosco’s style remained aloof from the rhetorical directness and affective power that composers such as Wert and Marenzio brought to Tasso’s poetry, the craftsmanship is nonetheless deft, expressive and contrapuntally accomplished.

In England Ferrabosco continued to be esteemed as a madrigalist even after his death, and many printed collections and manuscripts contain English versions of his works, on occasion (as in GB-Lbl Eg.2009–12) with completely new texts rather than translations of the Italian. They were also taken up by English viol players, as is shown by manuscripts such as US-SM EL 25 A 46–51. His influence left its mark on as fine a madrigalist as Wilbye, whose Lady, your words doe spight mee was carefully patterned on Donna, se voi m’odiate (rendered in Musica transalpina as ‘Lady, if you so spight mee’). Dowland, too, paid his respects: his song I saw my Lady weepe echoes Alfonso’s Vidi pianger madonna, one of the songs that, even as late as 1622, Henry Peacham considered to be unsurpassed ‘for sweetnesse of Aire, or depth of judgement’.

It is doubtful whether Ferrabosco ever composed a madrigal to English words. The one possible candidate is The wine that I so dearly got, for five voices, in the second book of Musica transalpina; the music fits the verses well, but these could well be a translation from a lost Italian original. The piece also appears in a contrafactum, ‘The nymphs that in the groves do sport’, whose text was presumably provided by Edward Paston. It seems certain, however, that Ferrabosco did make at least one contribution to the repertory of English moralizing consort songs, What is the cause why truth doth purchase foes. Unfortunately only its vocal line and a single viol part survive.

Ferrabosco’s two Latin secular songs both seem to strike a personal note: in Virgo per incertus casus the elegiac couplets refer to an ill fate preventing a desired return to England, while in Musica laeta (probably composed in 1578) the poet-musician bids a fond farewell to a patron before departing for his native land.

(iii) Instrumental music.

Ferrabosco’s instrumental music survives chiefly in sources of English provenance, though a few lute pieces also appear in Besard’s Thesaurus harmonicus (Cologne, 1603) and German manuscripts. His fantasias for lute and for bandora – an instrument whose invention coincided with his arrival in England, and to which he seems to have taken enthusiastically – must have contributed significantly to the naturalizing of this Renaissance genre in England. Some (such as c212) are predominantly contrapuntal; others are freely improvisatory (e.g. c198); and there are examples of florid passage-work (as in c200, which appeared in Robert Dowland’s Varietie of Lute-Lessons). Two keyboard fantasias survive, one of which is a short score of an otherwise incompletely surviving work for four viols; and the other contains some toccata-like writing, concluding with a galliard-like section.

The Ut re mi fa sol la pieces are probably a legacy of Ferrabosco’s activity as a teacher. One of them (c218) found its way into Baldwin’s Commonplace Book and into partbooks belonging to Edward Paston, and also circulated as an intabulation for lute. There is no cantus firmus, but the scales of the gamut’s ‘hard’ and ‘natural’ hexachords are worked into every strand of counterpoint. The duo for two trebles perhaps also had a didactic origin.

There is no clearer indication of Ferrabosco’s willingness to embrace distinctively English genres than his three five-part In Nomines. They show parallels with works of Byrd; in particular, c223 is related in style and substance to Byrd’s In Nomine a 5 no.3. Neighbour considers Ferrabosco’s to be the earlier of the two, but they must have been written within a short time of one another, perhaps not long after Ferrabosco’s arrival in 1562. At some stage Ferrabosco’s piece was revised, and perhaps fitted with sacred words, for in US-NH Filmer 1 it bears the incipit ‘Exaudi vocem meam’. c221 is more assured and adventurous, and achieved considerable fame, to judge from the number of surviving sources. There are again parallels with Byrd, this time with In Nomine a 5 no.4. Ferrabosco’s other In Nomine is unusually spirited, being written in lilting triple rhythm.

Although Ferrabosco used the plainchant Miserere mihi Domine as a cantus firmus for canons, his Miserere for lute, c210, has nothing to do with that chant. It is in fact a hitherto unnoticed intabulation of the second part of his setting of Inclina Domine aurem tuam (Ps lxxxvi), of which only the alto part otherwise survives.

The pavans present a variety of approaches to this dance form. The five-part pavan c220 almost certainly belonged to the repertory of Elizabethan court dancing, while a more abstract and intimate type of dance music is represented by his lute or bandora pavans, with their surprisingly irregular strain-lengths and varied repeats. c226, for mixed consort, is very likely an arrangement of a pavan for wind instruments by Augustine Bassano: lute and keyboard versions of the pieces are entitled ‘Augusti[ne’s] Pavan’ and ‘Pavana Bassano’ respectively. In Matthew Holmes’s partbooks (GB-Cu) the mixed consort setting is entitled ‘Alfonsoes Paven’, but Ferrabosco is not otherwise known to have written for an ensemble that had its heyday after he left England, and the supposition that he was responsible for it cannot be confirmed. In Ferrabosco’s setting of the Spanish Pavan one lute plays an exhilarating series of six divisions on the dance’s traditional melody while another supplies its ground bass and harmony. This sole surviving lute duet by him suggests that the ‘treble’ and ‘ground’ duets of John Johnson may, like so many other aspects of Elizabethan music, have owed their style partly to ‘Master Alfonso’s’ guidance.

Ferrabosco: (2) Alfonso Ferrabosco (i)


Editions: Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder (1543–1588): Opera omnia, ed. R. Charteris, CMM, xcvi (1984–8) [C i–ix]Alfonso Ferrabosco of Bologna: Collected Works for Lute and Bandora, ed. N. North (London, 1979) [N]Catalogue: R. Charteris: Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder (1543–1588): a Thematic Catalogue of his Music with a Biographical Calendar (New York, 1984) [C]




Ad Dominum cum tribularer, 5vv, C i, 1


Ad te levavi oculos meos (2p. Miserere nostri, Domine; 3p. Quia multum repleti sumus), 5vv, C i, 7


Afflictus sum (2p. Ne derelinquas me, Domine), 6vv, C i, 18


Agimus tibi, ?6vv, C ii, 208 [only in lute arr.]


Aurora diem nuntiat, 5vv, C i, 30


Benedicam Dominum in omne tempore (2p. Gustate et videte), 6vv, C i, 98


Benedic anima mea Domino (2p. Extendens caelum; 3p. Qui fundasti terram; 4p. Qui emittis fontes; 5p. Rigans montes; 6p. Saturabuntur ligna campi; 7p. Posuisti tenebras; 8p. Quam magnificata sunt; 9p. Draco iste; 10p. Emittes spiritum tuum; 11p. Cantabo Domino), 3–6vv, C i, 36


Benedic anima mea Domino, 5vv, C i, 91


Cantate Domino (2p. Quia beneplacitum est), 5vv, C i, 107


Conserva me, Domine (2p. Vias tuas, Domine), 5vv, C i, 119


Credo quod Redemptor, 6vv, C i, 131


Da pacem, Domine, 5vv, C i, 136


Da pacem, Domine, 6vv, C i, 142


Da pacem, Domine, 6vv, inc., C ii, 186


Decantabat populus Israel, 6vv, C i, 148


De profundis clamavi, ?5vv, C ii, 210 [lute arr. only]


Deus misereatur nostri (2p. Confiteantur tibi populi), 6vv, inc., C ii, 191


Domine, in virtute tua (2p. Magna est gloria ejus), 5vv, C i, 154


Domine, non secundum peccata nostra, 6vv, C i, 167


Ecce jam noctis tenuatur umbra, 5vv, C i, 175


Exaudi Deus orationem meam (2p. Quoniam declinaverunt in me), 6vv, C i, 180


Fuerunt mihi lacrymae, 4vv, C i, 190 [formerly attrib. Alfonso (ii); but see Charteris, 1990]


Heu mihi, Domine, 5vv, C i, 193


Heu mihi, Domine, 6vv, C i, 198

40, 71, 41, 72, 42, 73

Inclina Domine aurem tuam (2p. Miserere mei Domine; 3p. Quoniam tu Domine; 4p. In die tribulationis meae, inc.; 5p. Quoniam magnus es; 6p. Fac mecum signum), 3–7vv, inc., C ii, 7 and 196 [see also c210]


Ingemuit Susanna, 5vv, C ii, 20


In monte Oliveti, 6vv, C ii, 1


Jerusalem, plantabis vineam, 7vv, inc., C ii, p.xx (facs.) and 204


Judica me, Domine (2p. Vide humilitatem meam), 5vv, C ii, 27


Laboravi in gemitu meo, 5vv, C ii, 37


Mirabile mysterium, 5vv, C ii, 42


Nuntium vobis fero de supernis, 5vv, C ii, 49


O lux beata Trinitas (2p. Deo patri sit gloria), 6vv, C ii, 53


O vos omnes, 6vv, C ii, 61


Peccantem me quotidie, 5vv, C ii, 65


Peccata mea, Domine, 5vv, C ii, 70


Plorans ploravit in nocte, 6vv, inc., C ii, 206


Salva nos, Domine, 6vv, C ii, 76


Sana me, Domine (2p. Ne derelinquas me, Domine), 5vv, C ii, 80


Surge propera (2p. Surge propera), 5 vv, C ii, 89


Tibi soli peccavi (2p. Ecce enim in iniquitatibus), 6vv, C ii, 100


Timor et tremor (2p. Exaudi Deus), 6vv, C ii, 108


Tribulationem et dolorem inveni, 5vv, C ii, 117



De Lamentatione … Daleth: Viae Sion lugent, 5vv, C ii, 122


Incipit Lamentatio … Aleph: Quomodo sedet sola civitas, 5vv, C ii, 135


Incipit Lamentatio … Zain: Vocavi amicos meos, 5vv, C ii, 148


Incipit Lamentatio … Lamed: Peccatum peccavit Jerusalem, 6vv, C ii, 164



O remember not our old sins, 6vv, C ii, 181


Il primo libro de madrigali, 5vv (Venice, 1587) [1587a]

Il secondo libro de madrigali, 5vv (Venice, 1587 [1587b]



A la dolc’ombra (2p. Non vide il mondo; 3p. Un lauro mi difese; 4p. Però più ferm’ogn’ hor; 5p. Selve, sassi, campagne; 6p. Tanto mi piacque) (Petrarch), 5vv, 1587b, C v, 1 [Eng. version of 2p. as ‘Such pleasant boughs’, 159815, C v, 89; of 3p. as ‘Though time hath torn’, C v, text on p.xviii]


Amor mi sprona (Petrarch), 5vv, C vi, 79


Benedetto sia’l giorno (2p. Benedette le voci) (Petrarch), 6vv, C viii, 78


Bruna sei tu, ma bella (T. Tasso), 5vv, 1587b, C v, 68 [Eng. version as ‘Brown is my love’, 159724, C v, 111]


Cantai un tempo (P. Bembo), 5vv, C vi, 52


Cara la vita mia, 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 56 [Eng. version as ‘He that enjoy’d of pleasure’, C iv, 137]


Chi ha cor da partire, 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 72 [Eng. version as ‘List not to sirens singing’, C iv, 150]


Chi per voi non sospira, 5vv, C vi, 62


Con lagrime ch’ogn’ hor (G.B. Amalteo), C viii, 114


Così m’è l’aspettar, 6vv, C vii, 17


Deh non ponete fine, 5vv, C vi, 85


Dolce guerriera mia (2p. Ma se con l’opre) (Bembo), 6vv, C vii, 1


Dolce ire (2p. Forse anchor fia) (Petrarch), 5vv, C vi, 67


Dolci mentre il ciel volse (2p. Felice ohime) (F. Coppetta), 5vv, C vi, 92


Donna, l’ardente fiamma (2p. Signor, la vostra fiamma), 5vv, 1587b, C v, 28 [Eng. versions as ‘Lady, my flame still burning’, 2p. ‘Sweet lord, your flame still burning’, 159724, C v, 94; and (separately) as ‘What joy, delight and pleasure’, 2p. ‘How high was Caesar placed’, C v, 133]


Donna, se voi m’odiate (C. Rinaldi), 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 87 [Eng. version as ‘Lady if you so spight mee’, 158829, C iv, 168]


Ecco che un’altra volta (2p. Et se di vero amor) (J. Sannazaro), 6vv, C vii, 42


Ero così dicea (M. Martinengo), 5vv, C vi, 148; also in L’amorosa Ero (158817), ed. H.B. Lincoln (Albany, NY, 1968)


Fui vicino a cader’ (2p. Hor com’augel) (Coppetta), 6vv, C viii, 122 [Eng. version as ‘I was full neare my fall’; 2p. ‘But as the byrd’, 158829, C viii, appx, 144]


Già disfatt’ ha le nevi (2p. Esser non può) (A.F. Rinieri), 6vv, C viii, 73


Già fu mia dolce speme (Tasso), 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 45 [Eng. version as ‘Sometime my hope full weakly’, 158829, C iv, 125]


Già non fia ver, 5vv, 1587b, C v, 59


Godea Tirsi gli amori, 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 68 [Eng. version as ‘Thirsis enjoyed the graces’, 158829, C iv, 144]


Grave pene in amor (L. Ariosto), 6vv, C vii, 11


Hor che la notte, 5vv, C vi, 141


Hor vedi, Amor (2p. Tu sei pregion) (Petrarch), 6vv, C viii, 50


Interdette speranze (Sannazaro), 6vv, C vii, 24


Io son ferito, 5vv, C vi, 22


Io vo piangendo (2p. Sì che, s’io vissi) (Petrarch), 6vv, C viii, 14


Lasso me, ch’ad un tempo (2p. Cerco fermar il sol’) (Bembo), 6vv, C viii, 38


Mentre ch’il cor (2p. Quel foco è morto) (Petrarch), 6vv, C vii, 138


Mentre ti fui si grato (2p. Mentre ti fui sì cara; 3p. Hor pien d’alto desio; 4p. Hor un laccio; 5p. Lasso donque che sia; 6p. Ben chè senza mentire) (L. Alamanni), 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 6 [Eng. version of 4p. as ‘Say sweet Phyllis’, 159815, C iv, 98]


Nel più fiorito aprile, 5vv, 1587b, C v, 84 [Eng. versions as ‘In flower of April springing’, 159724, C v, 126; and ‘Farewell, all fancies feigned’, C v, 137]


Non ardo et son nel foco (2p. Foco è’l mio cor), 5vv, C vi, 45 [Eng. version as ‘O love, thy fire exceedeth’, 2p. ‘My heart is fire’, C vi, appx, 170]


Non è lasso martire (F. Spira), 5vv, 1587b, C v, 72 [Eng. version as ‘In love where is denying’, C v, 116]


Non è lasso martire (Spira), 6vv, C viii, 58


Non fingo, 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 82 [Eng. version as ‘The shepherds of fields and mountains’, C iv, 162]


Non ha tante, 5vv, C vi, 58 [Eng. version as ‘O spiteful love’, C vi, appx, 179]


Non mi fuggir, ben mio, 5vv, 1587b, C v, 48 [Eng. version as ‘Among the roses sleeping’, C v, 135]


O crude pene mie, 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 76 [Eng. version as ‘Who trusts to fortune’s smiling’, C iv, 155]


O dolcissimo bacio, 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 40 [Eng. version as ‘O sweet kisse’, 158829, C iv, 119]


Ogni loco m’attrista (Petrarch), 6vv, C viii, 96


Perle, rubini et ostro, 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 37 [Eng. version as ‘Rubies and pearls and treasure’, 158829, C iv, 115]


Poi chè lasso m’è tolto (2p. Ch’io sento ad hora; 3p. Come solea; 4p. Ove le luci giro) (P. Gradinicio), 4–5vv, C vi, 1


Poi ch’io non posso, 5vv, 1587b; C v, 64


Quando la bella, 6vv, inc., C viii, 132


Quant’io son infelice, 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 63


Quel sempre acerbo (Petrarch), 6vv, C viii, 6


Questi ch’inditio fan (Ariosto), 6vv, C viii, 107 [Eng. version as ‘These that bee certaine signes’, 158829, C viii, appx, 137]


Scoprirò l’ardor mio (2p. Se voi sete il mio sol), 5vv, 1587b, C v, 39


Se lungi dal mio sol (2p. Sola voi no’l sentite) (A.F. Rinieri), 6vv, C vii, 31 [Eng. version as ‘So farre from my delight’, 2p. ‘She onely doth not feele it’, 158829, C vii, appx, 152]


Se pur è ver che l’alma, 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 1 [Eng. version as ‘Penelope ever was praised’, C iv, 92]


Se pur è ver che l’alma, 6vv, C viii, 1


Solo e pensoso (2p. Sì ch’io mi cred’homai) (Petrarch), 5vv, 1587b, C v, 77 [Eng. version as ‘You that do stand’, C v, text on p.xviii; and of 2p. as ‘I think that if the hills’, 159815, C v, 122]


Standomi un giorno (2p. Indi per alto mar; 3p. In un boschetto novo; 4p. Chiara fontana; 5p. Una strania phenice; 6p. Al fin vid’io) (Petrarch), 5vv, C vi, 104


Tu dolce anima mia, 5vv, C vi, 41 [also arr. lute, 158412; Eng. version as ‘In fountain clear as crystal’, C vi, appx, 166]


Valle che dei lamenti (2p. Ben riconosco in lei) (Petrarch), 6vv, C viii, 28


Vergine bella (2p. Vergine saggia; 3p. Vergine pura; 4p. Vergine santa; 5p. Vergine sol’al mondo; 6p. Vergine chiara; 7p. Vergine, quante lagrime; 8p. Vergine, tale è terra; 9p. Vergine in cui hò tutta mia speranza; 10p. Vergine humana; 11p. Il dì s’appressa) (Petrarch), 6vv, C vii, 54


Vidi pianger madonna (2p. Come dal ciel) (A. Lionardi), 5vv, C vi, 30 [Eng. version as ‘I saw my lady weeping’, 2p. ‘Like as from heaven’, 158829, C vi, appx, 153]


Voi volete ch’io moia (G. Parabosco), 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 50 [Eng. version as ‘What thing more rare than beauty’, C iv, 130]


Voi volete ch’io moia (Parabosco), 6vv, 16015, 16059, C viii, 66


Vorrei lagnarmi a pieno (2p. S’io taccio) (Tasso), 5vv, 1587a, C iv, 28 [Eng. version as ‘I languish to complain me’, 2p. ‘If silent’, 159815, C iv, 104; also as ‘Upon a stage of silver’, 2p. as ‘O Richard, cruel tyrant’, C iv, texts on p.xx]


Zefiro torna (Petrarch), 5vv, 1587b, C v, 54 [Eng. versions as ‘Zephirus brings the time’, 159724, C v, 105; and as ‘Love is a pleasure’, C v, 136]


The wine that I so dearly got, 5vv, 159724, C iii, 41 [Eng. text presumably replaces lost It. original; also adapted as c85 ‘The nymphs that in the groves do sport’, C iii, 35]



Aupres de vous, 5vv, C iii, 12 [Eng. version as ‘Fair Phillida’, C iii, 48]


Las, voulez vous, 5vv, C iii, 17 [Eng. version as ‘How shall he sing’, C iii, 52]


Le rossignol plaisant et gratieux, 5vv, C iii, 22 [Eng. version as ‘The nightingale’, 158829, C iii, 57]


Sur la rousee fault aller, 6vv, C ix, 154 [sources give text incipit only, attrib. ‘Alfoncius’: cf Charteris, 1987; see also Instrumental works, below]


Susanne un jour (G. Guéroult), 5vv, C iii, 28 [Eng. version as ‘Susanna fair’, 158829, C iii, 64]

latin secular songs


Musica laeta, 5vv, C iii, 1


Virgo per incertos casus, 6vv, C iii, 7

consort songs


What is the cause why truth doth purchase foes, 1v, 4 viols, inc., C iii, 47




5 fantasias, C ix, nos.1–5, N [c199 also in version for bandora]

Fantasia, inc.; GB-Omc 265 (ascribed ‘Alphoso’; see Craig-McFeely, 1993)


5 pavans, C ix, nos.6–10, N [c206 found in two versions, in different keys, and also in version for bandora]


The Spanish Pavan, 2 lutes, C ix, no.9c; N


2 galliards, C ix, nos.11–12; N


Miserere, C ix, no.13; N [intabulation of 2p. of Inclina Domine aurem tuam]


Ut re mi fa sol la, C ix, no.21b; N [intabulation of consort work]


Ultimi miei sospiri, C ix, appx, 185; N [intabulation of Verdelot madrigal, ascribed ‘AFerabosco’ in D-Hs M B/2768]


Untitled piece, C ix, no.14; N

Untitled piece, GB-Lbl Hirsch M 1353, f.68v [anon. intabulation of Benedic anima mea Domino]



Fantasia, C ix; N [also in version for lute; ascribed ‘Alfonso’ in GB-Lbl Add.31392 and to ‘Ri Ali’ (i.e. Richard Alison) in Cu Dd.2.11]


3 fantasias, C ix; N [c214 found in two versions, in different keys]


Pavan, C ix; N [also in 2 versions for lute]



Fantasia, C ix; also ed. in MB, lv (1989), no.56 [score of 4-part consort work, perhaps for org acc.]


Fantasia, C ix; also ed. in MB, lxvi (1995), no.31

bowed strings


Fantasia a 4, inc., C ix, no.22b; also ed. in MB, xlv (1988), no.127 [all except tr reconstructed from kbd score]


[Fantasia] di sei bassi, 6 b [?viols], C ix, no.28; also ed. in MB, xliv (1979), no.68


Pavan a 5, C ix, no.130; also ed. in MB, xlv (1988), no.130


3 In Nomines a 5, C ix, nos.24–6; also ed. in MB, xliv (1979), nos.48–50


Duo, 2 tr, C ix, no.19; also ed. in MB, xlv (1988), no.115


Sur la rousée, 6 viols, C ix, no.27; also ed. in MB, xlv (1988), no.192 [textless chanson; see above]


[Ut re mi fa sol la], 2 tr, t, C ix, no.20 [compositional sketch]


Ut re me fa sol la, tr, 2 t, C ix, no.21a; also ed. in MB, xliv (1979), no.2 [also in version for lute]

doubtful or misattributed works


Salva me, Domine (2p. Christe redemptor), 6vv [textless; ascribed ‘alfonso’ by Baldwin in GB-Lbl R.M.24.d.2]


Sponsus amat sponsum, 5vv, inc. [ascription changed from ‘Alfons’ to ‘Byrd’ in McGhie partbook (private collection); Kerman (1981) doubts both ascriptions. Ascribed to Byrd in Lbl Add.32377; anon. in Ob Mus.Sch.E.423]


O praise our Lord, ye saints above, 5vv; ed. C. Monson, The Byrd Edition, xi (1983), no.21 [ascribed ‘Alphonso’ in Lbl Add.18936–9; and to Byrd in Lbl Add.17797 and Lbl Add.31992]


Le belle, 5vv [textless except for incipit; ascribed ‘Alphonso’ in Lbl Add.18936–9]


Phyllis a herdmaid dainty (2p. This Thyrsis said, lamenting), 5vv [1p. ascribed to ‘Alphonso’ in Lbl Add.18936–9]


Pavan, mixed consort, inc., C ix, no.29; N [entitled ‘Alfonsoes Paven’ in Cu Dd.3.18, 14.24, 5.20 and 5.21; also found in lute and kbd versions attrib. Augustine Bassano; authenticity also questionable on dating grounds, but accepted by North and Charteris]

Pavan, bandora, Cu Dd.2.11 (2 versions) [versions of c226, possibly by Ferrabosco (see Nordstrom)]


3 passamezzos; Gagliarda del passo e mezzo, La battaglia, lute; N [ascribed ‘Alfonsus de ferabosco’ in D-W Guelf.18.8.Aug.2o, but doubtful on grounds of style (North, Charteris)]

lost works

40 canons ‘2 partes in one upon the playne songe “Miserere”’ (Morley, A Plaine and Easie Introduction, 1597, p.115) [scheduled for publication in Medulla: Musicke sucked out of the sappe of … Master William Byrd … and Master Alphonso Ferabosco (see Stationers’ Register, 15 Oct 1603)]

Ferrabosco: (2) Alfonso Ferrabosco (i)


AshbeeR, vi, viii





J. Kerman: ‘Master Alfonso and the English Madrigal’, MQ, xxxviii (1952), 222–44

J. Kerman: ‘The Elizabethan Motet: a Study of Texts for Music’, Studies in the Renaissance, ix (1962), 273–308

J.V. Cockshoot: The Sacred Music of Alfonso Ferrabosco, Father (1543–88), with Critical Commentary (diss., U. of Oxford, 1963)

J. Kerman: ‘Byrd, Tallis, and the Art of Imitation’, Aspects of Medieval and Renaissance Music: a Birthday Offering to Gustave Reese, ed. J. LaRue and others (New York, 1966/R), 519–37; also with minor revisions in J. Kerman: Write All these Down: Essays on Music (Berkeley, 1994), 90–105

I. Cloulas, ed.: Correspondance du nonce en France Anselmo Dandino (1578–1581) (Rome and Paris, 1970)

D.L. Humphreys: Aspects of the Elizabethan and Jacobean Polyphonic Motet, with Particular Reference to the Influence of Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder on William Byrd (diss., U. of Cambridge, 1976)

P. Doe: ‘The Emergence of the In Nomine: some Notes and Queries on the Work of Tudor Church Musicians’, Modern Musical Scholarship: Oxford 1977, 79–92

O. Neighbour: The Consort and Keyboard Music of William Byrd (London, 1978)

L. de Grandis: ‘Famiglie di musicisti nel Cinquecento: i Ferrabosco: da Bologna alla corte di Londra’, NRMI, xiv (1980), 539–47

R. Charteris: ‘New Information about the Life of Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder (1543–1588)’, RMARC, xvii (1981), 97–114

J. Kerman: The Masses and Motets of William Byrd (Berkeley, 1981)

R. Charteris: ‘Autographs of Alfonso Ferrabosco I–III’, EMc, x (1982), 208–12

R. Charteris: ‘New Light on Ferrabosco’s Chansons’, The Consort, xxxviii (1982), 461–2

R. Charteris: ‘Newly Identified Italian Madrigals Englished’, ML, lxiii (1982), 276–80; see also P. Brett: ‘Italian Madrigals Englished’, ML, lxv (1984), 134–5

R. Charteris: ‘The Motets of Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder (1543–1588)’, The Consort, xxxviii (1982), 445–60

R. Charteris: ‘The English Songs of Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder’, Studies in Music [Australia], xvii (1983), 79–86

R. Charteris: Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder (1543–1588): a Thematic Catalogue of his Music with a Biographical Calendar (New York, 1984)

R. Charteris: ‘Ferrabosco Catalogue’, ML, lxvi (1985), 196–8

K.S. Teo: ‘Three Continental Chromatic Compositions in Mid-Sixteenth-Century England’, MR, xlvi (1985), 1–11

J. Wess: ‘Musica transalpina, Parody, and the Emerging Jacobean Viol Fantasia’, Chelys, xv (1986), 3–25

R. Charteris: ‘The Origin of Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder’s Six-Part Fantasia c224’, Chelys, xvi (1987), 12–15

R. Charteris: ‘A Memorial for Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder’, MT, cxxix (1988), 393–6

R. Charteris: ‘“Fuerunt mihi lacrymae”: Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder or the Younger?’, Essays on Italian Music in the Cinquecento, ed. R. Charteris (Sydney, 1990), 113–30

J. Kerman: ‘An Italian Musician in England, 1562–78’, IMSCR XV: Madrid 1992 [RdMc, xvi (1993)], 561–73; repr. in Write All These Down: Essays on Music (Berkeley, 1994), 139–51

L. Nordstrom: The Bandora: its Music and Sources (Warren, MI, 1992)

J. Craig-McFeely: ‘Fragments of English Lute Music II: Oxford Libraries’, The Lute, xxxiii (1993), 34–54

P. Holman: Four and Twenty Fiddlers: the Violin at the English Court 1540–1690 (Oxford, 1993, 2/1995)

R. Bray, ed.: The Blackwell History of Music in Britain, ii (Oxford, 1995)

D. Wulstan: ‘Byrd, Tallis and Ferrabosco’, English Choral Practice 1400–1650, ed. J. Morehen (Cambridge, 1995), 109–42

D. Mateer: ‘William Byrd, John Petre and Oxford, Bodleian MS Mus.Sch.E.423’, RMARC, xxix (1996), 21–46


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