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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » F » Ferrabosco I, Alfonso

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Alfonso Ferrabosco I (1543 - 1588)

Better known than his father, Domenico Maria, Alfonso Ferrabosco was born in Bologna, accompanied his father to Rome, and in 1559 was in the service of Charles de Guise, Cardinal of Lorraine. By the 1560s he had entered the service of Queen Elizabeth in England, remaining there, intermittently, until 1578, when political and personal circumstances obliged him to return to Italy. There he entered the service of the Duke of Savoy. He tried to negotiate a possible return to England, where he had enjoyed royal favour and where he had left two children (his presence in England had also endangered his claims to property in Bologna); but he died during a visit to Bologna in 1588.

Church Music

Ferrabosco served as a model for English composers of his day. His Latin motets offered possible repertoire to English Catholics and he wrote one or two English anthems. These all represent a relatively conservative Italian style.


Ferrabosco wrote a quantity of Italian madrigals, some also with English words. These again had a strong influence on his contemporaries in England, where the fashion for madrigals was newly developing.

Lute and Viol Music

As a lutenist, Ferrabosco wrote music for lute and for viols: fantasias, In nomines and dances.


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