Alfonso [Alphonso] Ferrabosco [Farrabosco, Ferabosco, Forobosco] ("The Elder") [aka: "Master Alfonso"]


Italian musician and composer. In service to Cardinal of Lorraine (Bologna) 1559-6(2). Alfonso Ferrabosco ("The Elder"), who was to become a friend of Byrd's, a son of Domenico Ferabosco, arrived in England before 1562, when he was awarded a pension payable during the Queen's pleasure. Musician in service to Queen Elizabeth 1562-63. In 1567 he fell into disfavor, being accused of the murder of a foreign musician. Alfonso claimed he was innocent; by 1569 the affair was settled and he bound himself to Elizabeth's service for life, being granted a pension once more. The same year he went to Italy to settle his affairs there and was back in England by 1572, in which year he is recorded as an actor in a court masque. An alternative and somewhat more colorful story is that he was an agent (spy) in the service of Queen Elizabeth 1562-7(9). He was recorded in the service of Cardinal Farnese (Rome) 1564-6(5 and in Bologna (Italy) 1565-71, returning to England 1571-78. He broke his pledges to the queen in 1578, left his two children in the care of a court musician, and returned to Italy. In Paris 1578-82. In the service of the Duke of Savoy, Turin 1582-88.

His music was highly esteemed by his English contemporaries, and his surviving sacred works, consisting almost entirely of Latin motets, are preserved mostly in MSS in England. he was credited with the introduction of the "Italian style" at Court. Patron of an English music dynasty. Undoubtedly one of the children left in England by Alfonso "The Elder"is the composer known as Alfonso Ferrabosco II. He wasalso the grandfather of Alfonso Ferrabosco III and Henry Ferrabosco.

A Partial Alfonso Ferrabosco I Discography   |   IV M: England Through 1635  |  The English Madrigalists   |  Index of Madrigal Composers