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Pomponio Nenna (baptized 13 June 1556 – before 22 October 1613) was an Italianmarker composer of the Renaissance. He is mainly remembered for his madrigal, which were influenced by Gesualdo.


He was born in Barimarker, in the southeastern extremity of Italy. His father was a city official of Bari, and was the author of a book on nobility; he had been given the "Order of the Golden Spur" by Emperor Charles V in 1530.

Most likely he studied with Stefano Felis in Bari. In 1574 he published his first music, four villanellas which were published in collections edited by Giovanni Jacopo de Antiquis, who may also have been a teacher of his. In 1582 Nenna dedicated his first book of madrigals to Fabrizio Carafa, the Duke of Andria, near Bari; Fabrizio had nominated Nenna to be his successor. Fabrizio Carafa is also the man murdered by Gesualdo, in bed with Gesualdo's wife, in one of music history's most famous murders (1590). Curiously, Nenna later became friends with Gesualdo, and dedicated music to him. Then again Gesualdo was Prince of Venosamarker and it may have been advisable for a competing composer to stay in his good graces.

Nenna worked for Gesualdo between 1594 and 1599, at which time it was once assumed that Gesualdo, more or less an amateur composer, studied with Nenna—but more recent musicological study suggests that the influence may have gone the other way, since Nenna did more borrowing from Gesualdo than the reverse.

Nenna's activities in the first decade of the 17th century are obscure, but he most likely was in Naplesmarker from 1606 to 1607 and in Romemarker in 1608. A memorial dedication to Nenna on a book of madrigals by Nicola Tortamano in 1613 establishes the latest date at which he could have died. Most likely he died in Rome.

Music and influence

Nenna followed the stylistic trends of the time. He borrowed some ideas from Giulio Caccini, the famous Florentinemarker, one of the founders of opera; he certainly borrowed from Gesualdo; but his innovations were of a minor order compared to the progressive nature of Caccini and the frankly avant-garde, mannerist style of Gesualdo. Some of Nenna's madrigals also borrow the antiphonal style of Andrea Gabrieli, an unusual feature, for influences of the polychoral style are rare in the madrigal literature.

Nenna wrote eight books of madrigals, of which the second and third are lost. He also wrote sacred music, including Tenebrae responsories and a psalm setting.

His eighth book of madrigals went through several printings in the 17th century, and was widely distributed.

References and further reading

  • Articles "Pomponio Nenna", "Carlo Gesualdo," "Ferrara" The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1980. ISBN 1-56159-174-2
  • Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0-393-09530-4
  • Keith A. Larson: "Pomponio Nenna", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed September 16, 2005), (subscription access)

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