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Biography of

Alfonso II Ferrabosco

1572 - 1628
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Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger (b. Greenwich, c. 1575; bur. Greenwich, March 11, 1628) was an English composer and viol player of Italian descent. He straddles the line between the Renaissance and Baroque eras. He was the illegitimate son of the Italian composer Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder. His mother might have been Susanna Symons, whom Alfonso the elder later married. Ferrabosco the younger was left under the guardianship of Gomer van Awsterwyke, a member of the queen's court. Although Alfonso the elder asked for Alfonso the younger to be sent to him in Italy, where he had moved with his wife, the queen insisted that he stay in England. Ferrabosco remained in Gomer van Awsterwyke's care until his death in 1592. At this time he started a long career as a court musician, including as the private music tutor of Prince Henry.

A poem addressed to Ferrabosco from Jonson in the former's Book of Ayres.

Ferrabosco collaborated with Ben Jonson on several projects, including The Masque of Blackness (1605), and wrote music for several other masques besides. His music was published by John Browne in 1609, including a number of settings of poems by John Donne and Thomas Campion, as well as lute and viol music. He frequently wrote in the new declamatory Baroque style, and although he never went to Italy, he was well aware of contemporary Italian music.[1]

Ferrabosco the younger's reputation was built largely on his prowess as a viol player, and even more so his compositions for viol consort. These were highly idiomatic works, with lots of divisions, and virtuosic lines. He also wrote many In Nomines, which were great examples of that popular genre, without the pedantic bent many later In nomines were given to. Ferrabosco was also one of the first to write lyra viol music in tablature, along with Coprario, and wrote a book of Lessons for the lyra viol.[1]

Ferrabosco continually had difficulty with debts, and was involved in an unsuccessful scheme involving various rights on the River Thames, including dredging it for gravel, and imposing fines on people who caused a nuisance on it. [1]


Christopher D.S. Field. "Alfonso Ferrabosco (ii)", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed January 30, 2006), (subscription access).


  1. ^ a b c Grove, "Alfonso Ferrabosco (ii)"

External links

  • [1] Alfonso Ferrabosco, The Younger, - Consort Music for the Viols in 4, 5 & 6 Parts, Hespèrion XXI, Jordi Savall. - Alia Vox AVSA 9832

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Alfonso II Ferrabosco. Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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