Carlo Gesualdo the Murdering Musician

So I think I've said this to people in "real life" and not here: my friend Ted's blog of musings is one of my favorite things to read. It probably helps if you know Ted, but what better opportunity to get to know Ted? I like it so much, I'm going to blatantly rip off one of his posts (with attribution, granted, which I suppose makes it more legit than 80% of other Internet postings.)

Ted commented about how he wanted to like classical music more, but that it's hard to take seriously because he's "already heard [it] so many times in the context of stupid pop culture - pork commercials, Home Alone movies, etc." That's a brilliant observation: how irritating is it when one of your favorite songs is used in a commercial? Suddenly, it takes on a new meaning and context. Most of the classics have been co-opted in some form, so you already have associations that mar just enjoying the music.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, Ted goes on to reference a new favorite composer of his, Carlo Gesualdo. I kind of like the music, but I really like his Wikipedia page. There is one whole section of it titled "The Murders" because, in addition to being a musician, Gesualdo is a murderer.

Gesualdo found out his wife was having an affair with a duke so he brought some servants, caught them fucking, and not only killed but mutilated them in bed. Then he doubted his kid's paternity and proceeded to "swing the infant around in his cradle until the breath left his body." He also allegedly killed a nanny trying to protect the child and his father-in-law as further retribution for his wife's dalliances. Wikipedia is careful to say "allegedly" to those last murders since the documentation on the incidents isn't as concrete as the first slaughters and they don't want to be sued for libel against some long dead composer or something.

Because Gesualdo was a nobleman, he wasn't subject to any punishment, so he just got to go on writing music. He even married again. (Seriously? It's like those women who date O.J. -- come on!) Surprisingly, their marriage floundered: he abused her, so she moved out. "She seems to have been a very virtuous lady... for there is no record of his having killed her." Oh snap, random historian!

In his later years, Gesualdo was so depressed and guilt-ridden, he had his servants beat him. Well all right! You just need to read his whole biography, because it's awesome. The next time someone tells me what an interesting life story Beethoven has because he was deaf, I'm going to say, "Bitch, please, and who did he kill?"

No comments: