Cipriano de Rore

John Florens | Nov 26, 2023

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Cipriano de Rore († between September 11 and 20, 1565 in Parma) was a Franco-Flemish composer, singer and chapel master of the Renaissance.

After a long disagreement about de Rore's birthplace, it was proven in 1983 that he came from Ronse, a Flemish town west of Brussels; the name Rore has been known there since the year 1400. The coat of arms of the wealthy family from which he came features two crossed scythes in front of an oval; the composer used this coat of arms to seal his letters, and it is also on his memorial stone in Parma Cathedral. His first name refers to St. Cyprianus, who was venerated in Ronse in the chapter church of St. Hermes. There is little information about de Rore's early years. The homage madrigal "Alma real, se come fida stella," probably composed in 1561 for Margaret of Parma, suggests a previous official relationship with the governor of the Netherlands. Margareta stayed in Italy from 1533 on; if de Rore was part of her entourage, his stay in Italy from this year or later would be plausible. However, there is no evidence for this. Similarly, the claim made by musicologists in the 19th century that de Rore served as a chapel singer in the music chapel of San Marco in Venice in the late 1530s and early 1540s could not be confirmed by any evidence. Some sources refer to the composer as a pupil of Adrian Willaert, but this was not necessarily a close teacher-pupil relationship. Certainly, there was a good contact of Cipriano de Rore with the inner circle around Willaert, which is evident from poems by Girolamo Fenaruolo published in 1546.

Research into the correspondence of the Strozzi family has proven that Ruberto Strozzi (c. 1512 - 1566) and Neri Capponi (1504-1594), two noblemen exiled from Florence who played an important role in Venice in the creation of Adrian Willaert's Musica Nova, were de Rore's first patrons. He composed madrigals, motets and canzoni for them. The letters also testify that de Rore very likely stayed in Brescia from 1542 to 1545 and, during occasional trips to Venice, may have supervised the printing of his madrigal and motets books there. During the same period, a number of tribute compositions were written to ecclesiastical and secular prominent persons, from whom the composer may have expected employment. That Cipriano de Rore had a high reputation early on is evident from his relationships with aristocratic circles in northern and central Italy, such as Cristoforo Madruzzo (1512-1578), Cardinal of Trento, for whom he composed "Quis tuos presul," or Guidobaldo II della Rovere (1514-1574), Duke of Urbino, for whom the works "Itala quae cecidit" and "Cantiamo lieti" were written.

In 1546, Duke Ercole II d'Este (1508-1559) summoned him to his court in Ferrara as Kapellmeister, where he worked almost without interruption for almost twelve years, Ferrara having previously been known as an outstanding center of the arts, especially music. During this time there, de Rore wrote at least 107 works for the d'Este family, as well as for members of the clerical and secular upper classes of Europe. He wrote two masses and a secular motet for his employer Ercole, and the composition "O qui populos suscipis" for his brother, Cardinal Ippolito II (1509-1572), to a text by the Ferrarese court poet Giovanni Battista Pigna, from whom de Rore set other poems to music. He also maintained good relations with other court poets, such as Giambattista Giraldi (called Cinzio) and Girolamo Faletti, and set their poems to music. In 1557 he composed the madrigal "Un' altra volta in Germania stride" for Emperor Charles V. Because of the death of his brother Celestinus, Cipriano de Rore set out on a journey to Flanders in March 1558 with the duke's permission, interrupting the trip in Munich, where he was able to supervise the production of the magnificent manuscript of his four- to eight-part motets at Duke Albrecht V's court. This collection also contains a portrait of the composer by the court painter Hans Mielich, who also contributed numerous other miniatures. Together with two composition cycles by Orlando di Lasso, the contents of this magnificent volume are counted among the musica reservata cultivated at the Munich court. Duke Albrecht received a New Year's gift from de Rore in January 1559 in the form of an unnamed composition.

After his stay of several months in his homeland, de Rore returned to Ferrara in December 1558, but had to travel again to Flanders in July 1559, because as a result of the War of Independence the city of Ronse had burned down on July 19, 1559, and his parents had lost their belongings. In the meantime, his employer Duke Ercole had died on October 3, 1559, and Cipriano de Rore, after his return, sought an extension of his chapel master position with the successor of Alfonso II d'Este. However, the post was given to Francesco dalla Viola, who had assisted the duke in publishing Willaert's Musica Nova. The regent of the Netherlands, Margaret of Parma, first summoned de Rore to Brussels and in 1560 arranged for him to attend the court of her husband Ottavio Farnese in Parma, whereupon the composer left Brussels on September 19, 1560, traveled to Parma, and received his first salary there on February 18, 1561. When Adrian Willaert died in Venice in December 1562, Cipriano de Rore wrote the motet "Concordes adhibete animos" in honor of the late master and became his successor at the Basilica of San Marco in 1563. But already the following year he gave up this prestigious position, after the organizational deficiencies that had arisen due to the division of the local music band had taken full effect. In a letter dated July 12, 1564, there is talk of gravezza del servitio and disordine.

De Rore still had correspondence with the Duke of Parma during his Venetian period and then returned to his former position. For the wedding of Duke Ottavio's son, Alessandro Farnese, to Maria of Portugal (1538-1577), de Rore composed the madrigal "Vieni, dolce Himeo" and perhaps also "Ne l'aria in questi dì." In the last years of his life, he maintained contacts with various ecclesiastical and secular dignitaries in Italy and Tyrol and dedicated compositions to them. The composer died in September 1565 at the age of about 50, although the exact circumstances have not been handed down.

Cipriano de Rore wrote over 100 madrigals, most of which were published in seven madrigal books. Of these seven, only the two first published, that of 1542 and of 1550, contain exclusively works by the composer; the other five books are collected editions. Already with his first book, Madrigali a cinque voci, which under the name Il primo libro de madregali cromatici underwent an expanded new edition two years later (1544), he distinguished himself among his contemporaries as a mature composer with great talent. A strong Venetian influence is evident in his madrigals, evident in a compact, imitative polyphony previously common only to motets, and also in his preference for the sonnet, especially Francesco Petrarch's canzoniere. De Rore preferred somber themes, which he set to music with the appropriate cosmopolitan and dramatic means. He also considerably expanded the scale of rhythmic values in his very first publication by using the notation a note nere. Not all madrigals are of a somber character; the best counterexample is the four-part "Anchor che col partire," which rose to extraordinary popularity. It was arranged many times for vocal and instrumental accompaniment and served as a model for parody masses by Philippe de Monte and Balduin Hoyoul, as well as for a parody magnificat by Orlando di Lasso. In his third book of madrigals (1548), his musical style gradually shifts to homophonic passages, abrupt changes of tempo and texture, and flexible speech rhythms.

After a break from 1550 to 1557, during which the composer did not publish anything, de Rore showed a considerably changed compositional style with a transformed harmonic and melodic language. For his setting of several stanzas of the Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1533), he drew on the tradition of the improvvisatori from Ferrara, combining it in part with a canonic writing style. His increased use of transparent vocal texture, homophonic declamation, a rich harmonic palette, and lively textual expression mark Cipriano de Rore as a clear forerunner of the future seconda pratica later championed by Claudio Monteverdi. The composer's secular Latin pieces took the same development. Thus, in the eight-part "Donec gratus eram tibi" after an ode by Horace, the dialogic text of the poem is presented homophonically by two four-part choirs.

There is only one print, the second of 1545, which contains motets only by de Rore, with modal arrangement of the pieces; the others are collections of various composers (anthologies), namely Liber primus (the existence of another collection is also suspected, which is now lost. Many of the composer's motets have also survived in important manuscripts. First of all, the richly decorated manuscript with 26 secular and religious Latin pieces for four to eight voices, written under the patronage of Duke Albrecht V, should be mentioned here. Two other manuscripts from around 1560 from the court of Ferrara are in the library of the d'Este family in Modena. Similar to the madrigals, the motets show a progressive tendency toward greater transparency through syllabic text declamation and increased text expression. A good cross-section of de Rore's motets is provided by the Munich manuscript mentioned above, with its examples of canon technique, counterpoint, and soggetto ostinato.

Several of the masses de Rores are based on models by Josquin, for example the five-part mass "Vous ne l'aurez pas," which has survived in print, is based on Josquin's chanson of the same name; however, Hosanna and Benedictus are missing here. The other four masses exist in manuscript or were printed posthumously. The seven-part mass "Praeter rerum seriem," also based on a Josquin original, was very popular at the Munich court of Albrecht V; the duke praised it extraordinarily in a letter dated April 25, 1557. De Rore's last mass, "Doulce mémoire," may have been commissioned by Ferdinand II of Tyrol (in it, the development toward greater polyphonic transparency evident in his oeuvre as a whole is equally evident. The composer also wrote a smaller number of other liturgical works, such as a Magnificat sexti toni, five psalms, and a St. John Passion attributed to him that was written almost entirely homophonically, printed by the publisher Le Roy and Ballard, Paris 1557. Even after his death, the further dissemination of de Rore's compositions continued (new editions of madrigal books, further printings of his motets, and collected editions of manuscripts of other pieces). In the field of madrigal, de Rore was among the most famous masters of his time; he was nicknamed "Cypriano divino." Because of his stylistic versatility, Cipriano de Rore was held in high esteem both by conservative music theorists (for example, Giovanni Maria Artusi, who saw in him an ideal representative of prima pratica) and by progressive composers, such as Giovanni de' Bardi and the brothers Claudio and Giulio Cesare Monteverdi, who praised him as a pioneer of a new compositional practice, seconda pratica.

Complete edition: Cipriano de Rore: Opera omnia, edited by B. Meier, 1959-1977 (= Corpus Mensurabilis Musicae No. 14).


  1. Cipriano de Rore
  2. Cipriano de Rore
  3. Katelijne Schiltz: Rore, Cipriano, de. In: Ludwig Finscher (Hrsg.): Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Zweite Ausgabe, Personenteil, Band 14 (Riccati – Schönstein). Bärenreiter/Metzler, Kassel u. a. 2005, ISBN 3-7618-1134-9, Sp. 369–380 (Online-Ausgabe, für Vollzugriff Abonnement erforderlich)
  4. Marc Honegger, Günther Massenkeil (Hrsg.): Das große Lexikon der Musik. Band 7: Randhartinger – Stewart. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau u. a. 1982, ISBN 3-451-18057-X.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Owens, Grove Online
  6. ^ Einstein, Vol.1 p. 384
  7. ^ Johnson, p 185
  8. ^ Johnson, p 185-187.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Johnson, p 186
  10. Cipriano de Rore // Nationalencyklopedin (швед.) — 1999.

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