Spain Music - Polyphony of the 16th - 17th Century

The Spanish polyphony of the century. XVI (with the exception of the works of musicians who passed through Italy, Flanders, Austria, etc., as singers and chapel masters) rarely reached the press. This is the main cause of the irreparable loss of much of Spanish classical music. The Spanish musicians passed especially in Italy, thanks to the existence in Rome of the papal chapel, which center – until Callisto III – was often visited by those masters and by the chapel of the viceroy of Naples. The Flemish chapel of Charles V attracted eminent masters to Spain, with whom the Spanish masters could alternate during the reigns of Philip II and Philip III. The Austrian court was also frequented by Spanish musicians, thanks to the family relations that united the two courts.

According to RRRJEWELRY.COM, the main schools of the century. XVI were the Andalusian, the Castilian and the Catalan. In Andalusian, Juan Navarro, Juan Vázques, Fernán de las Infantas, Francisco Guerrero flourished; in the Castilian Juan Escribano, Bartolomé Escobedo and Francisco Soto de Langa, some of whom were singers in Rome; Diego Ortiz, teacher in Naples, Sebastián Raval, teacher in Palermo, Alfonso Lobo and Bernardino de Ribera. The most famous were Antonio de Cabezón and Tomás Luis de Victoria. Of the Catalans we mention the two Mateu Flecha, Pere Albert Vila, Pere Cubels, Pau Villalonga and Joan Brudieu. Religious music of this time is distinguished by its religious-dramatic and deeply lyrical mysticism; the masters of this century rarely wrote religious compositions using secular themes. As composers of madrigals we remember Pedro Valenzuela, villancicosvillanescassonetos and canciones wrote Rodrigo Ceballos, Navarro, Juan Vázquez and Guerrero. This sixteenth century is important above all, in Spain, for instrumental compositions: vihuela, organ and guitar.

Among the composers for vihuela we must mention Luis Milán, Luis de Narbáez, Enrique de Valderrábano, Alfonso Mudarra, Diego Pisador and Miguel de Fuenllana; their main merit consists in the fact that among them are the predecessors of the accompanied monody; but no less famous are the organists Venegas of Henestrosa, Juan Bermudo, Antonio de Cabezón, Pere A. Vila, Diego del Castillo, Bernardo Clavijo del Castillo and Fra Tomás de Santa Maria; which are distinguished by the art of variation and in the genre of tiento, as well as for their mystical feeling. Among the theorists we remember Gonzalo Martínez de Bizcargui, an emulator of Ramós de Pareja, Francisco Tovar, Francisco Salinas the Blind (1513-1590) who was also for some time organist in Naples; between Tomás de Santa Maria and Bermudo they were in fact some of the most famous organ virtuosos in sixteenth-century Europe.

The religious polyphony of the century. XVII is represented by Joán Pujol, Marcià Albareda and Josep Reig in Barcelona; Joan Marqués, Diego Roca, Francisco Miguel López and Joan Cererols monks of Monserrato; Sebastián Aquilera de Heredia, Grazián Baban and Fra Manuel Correa for Aragon, Joan Baptisti Comes, Urbá de Vargas and Jeronime de la Torre for Valenza, Juan Esquivel of Barahona, Sebastián de Vivanco, Juan Ruiz de Robledo, Matteo Romero and Alberto Lobo for Castile. Although very talented, they continue to be formed in the Spanish tradition of the century. XVII and slow to incorporate into the movement of Italian musical evolution which was already widespread throughout Europe. The profane music continues especially thanks to the royal chapels of Philip III and Philip IV and the house of the Duke of Alba. In all cases it must be admitted that Cerone’s blames were well founded against the Spanish nobility who, unlike the Italian nobility, did not like profane or religious music very much in palaces. The musical forms of this profane repertoire were those of the gods tonos humanosvillancicosmadrigalssongsletrassonnetssonatas and chamber arias, as well as Cuatros de empezar. Juan Blas de Castro (Lope de Vega’s friend), F. Company, Gabriel Díaz, Diego Gómez, Juan Palomares, Matteo Romero and Petro Rimonte, are the most renowned of those composers. These masters also cultivate the madrigal style, in a very simple counterpoint. Among the profane compositions destined to be sung in the theater, it is worth mentioning the Cuatros de empezar by Matteo Romero, Carlos Patiño and José Peyró: the intermediate group between the polyphonic style and the accompanied melody is represented by the Tonadas by Jerónime de la Torre, by the Solos humanos by Sebastián Durón, Juan de Navas, Juan Hidalgo and José Marín.

The instruments used in this century are reduced to the following: bass, saquebuchechirimiasvihuela de arcoharpcornet and órgano. A little later the violins in the royal chapel were added to these. Great vogue at this time was the tonostonada a solo and the villancicos, accompanied on the basso continuo. Organ music continued to flourish according to the technique and mysticism of the old Venegas de Henestrosa and Cabezón. Rather, the innovator was Francisco de Corea de Arauxo. The little that is preserved of the Castilian masters contrasts with the good knowledge we can have of the Valencian and Catalan organists; Joan Baseya, Gabriel Menalt, Pau Nassarre, Andrés Lorente, and Pau Bruna are the most renowned of this school, all however inferior to Joan Cabanillas (1644-1712), the genius of Spanish organ music, in which we see in synthesis the process evolution of Spanish instrumental music. His tientos de falsas (of dissonances), tientos partidos and llenos, his touchespassacagliafolliesheftypaseos and versos, prove his talent in the art of variation and counterpoint, as well as its revolutionary audacity to harmonist.

Spanish theatrical music has a very rich past. Starting with Juan del Encina with his eclogues, with the sung tropes, the intermediates and the villancicos of the first century. XVI, passing through the Cuatros de empezar of the century. XVII (sort of sung overtures) up to the Lope de Vega theater (which requires frequent musical interventions) the Spanish opera house presents different aspects worthy of any study. In 1629 the Selva sin amor by Lope de Vega was performed, the first opera represented in Spain, whose music has however been lost; also the music (by an unknown author) of the Púrpura de la Rosa has been lostfrom 1660 on a text by Calderón de la Barca. The oldest work, preserved in Spain, whose music is known at least in part, is based on a text by Calderón, and the music is by Juan Hidalgo: the title is Celos aun del aire matan, and goes back to the year 1660. I Spanish playwrights and composers during the century. XVII always speak of zarzuelaséclogasfiestas de música y de teatrofiestas cantadascomedias armónicas, etc., while they never use the name of opera.

Spain Music - Polyphony of the 16th - 17th Century