Alfonso Ferrabosco

Alfonso Ferrabosco (Alfonso Ferrabosco (I); his son, Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger was also a composer) (baptised 18th January 1543 – 12th August 1588) was an Italian composer. While mostly famous as the solitary Italian madrigalist working in England, and the one mainly responsible for the growth of the madrigal there, he also composed much sacred music. He also may have been a spy for Elizabeth I while he was in Italy. Little is known about his early life, but he is known to have spent part of it in Rome and part in Lorraine in the service of Charles of Guise. In 1562, probably with his uncle, he came to England for the first time, where he found employment with Elizabeth I. Throughout his life he made periodic trips to Italy, not without controversy, for evidently neither the Pope nor the Inquisition fully approved of his spending time in England, which was in the late 16th century actively at war with Roman Catholic countries. While in England, he lost his Italian inheritance, and while away in Italy he was charged with certain crimes in England (including robbing and killing another foreigner). While he was successful in clearing his name, he left England in 1578 and never returned; he died in Bologna. Many have said that he was a secret service agent for Elizabeth, working during a time when such intelligence was desperately needed; however, little more than circumstantial evidence has ever been produced on this allegation. He was certainly unusually well-paid for ...

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