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Umeå Akademiska Kör

Early Vocal Music Map

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  • Research and text by Chris Whent at HOASM (Here on a Sunday Morning - WBAI 99.5 FM New York)
  • Composer Bibliography - links to Wikipedia and HOASM
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VII. Western Europe 1650-1760

VIIh. Iberia, New Spain and America


Throughout the baroque period music in Spain maintained a distinctly local color in spite of Italian influence which made itself increasingly felt as the century progressed. Spanish masters were active all over Europe, notably the guitar virtuosi Doisi in Italy and Brizeño in France, and the bassoon virtuoso Bartolomeo de Selma at the Austrian court. De Selma's flamboyant solo and trio sonatas for bassoon, printed in Venice (1638), are written in early baroque virtuoso style in the vein of Castello and other Venetian composers. The Catalan harpsichordists Romaña and Marqués, who also belonged to the early baroque, deserve mention for their variations on secular dance tunes.



Iberian Organ Music

Organ Music was represented by Aguilera de Heredia, from 1603 organist at Saragossa, the Portuguese organist Coelho (Flores de Musica, 1620), and Correa de Araujo. Correa's Facultad orgánica (1626), the most representative Spanish collection of early baroque organ music, displays a strange mixture of archaic and progressive features. Correa combined the traditional polyphonic texture with strikingly erratic melodic contours and somber colors, highly reminiscent of the contemporary paintings of El Greco. The bizarre melodic turns to be found in his ricercars or tientos had already occurred, if rarely, in the works of Cabezon, but with Correa they became common practice. He shared with Frescobaldi the frequent use of pre-tonal chromaticism or falsas, but the music of the Spaniard was more chaotic and restless. The strongly affective character of Correa's subjects stands in striking contrast to the rigid and mechanical figures that he borrowed from the English and Dutch organ style. The fusion of these conflicting elements characterizes all the Spanish artists of the time: it betrays powerful affections that are, however, ascetically controlled by equally powerful inhibitions. In his turbulent tiento a modo di cancion, Correa paradoxically combined the variation ricercar with the form of a quilt canzona, moving restlessly in fits and starts as if driven by the ascetic lust for painful affections.


The ascetic spirit abated in the music of Juan Cabanilles, the greatest organist of the Spanish middle baroque. Cabanilles proved his keen coloristic and harmonic sense by his tientos de falsas; his temperate and energetic counterpoint, characterized by upbeat patterns and repeated notes, was harmonically stable enough to sustain large multipartite forms. His extended tientos are often reduced to three major parts; combining the features of the polythematic ricercar and the variation ricercar, they include long pedal points on different degrees of the scale in which the same melodic material recurs in various keys. His formal variations on secular themes, national dances, and ostinati, such as the passacalles and the folia, bespeak a happy imagination, no longer under the spell of self-denial and inhibition.



Spanish Church Music

Spanish church music reflected in its hyper-conservative attitude the spirit of severe orthodoxy that prevailed in Spain. The innovations of baroque style were shunned. The music of Victoria, more advanced with respect to harmony than that of Palestrina, but otherwise equally conservative, became the prototype of the Spanish church composers who studiously preserved the stile antico well into the eighteenth century. The conservative school included the Catalan masters Juan Comes, Juan Pujol, and Cererols of Montserrat; Romero, known as "El Maestro Capitán," and the Portuguese composers Rebello, Magalhães and Melgaço. The late baroque church music was represented by Francisco Valls who no longer adhered to the stile antico. He composed an auto-sacramental or oratorio in Italian style. The unprepared (though very innocuous) dissonances in his Mass Scala Aretina aroused a lengthy controversy among the Spanish musicians, comparable to that between Monteverdi and Artusi.



Spanish Secular Music

The secular music of Spain was more thoroughly tinged with national color than any other field of music. The villancicos, ensaladas, tonadas (songs), and other secular Spanish forms displayed unique rhythmic patterns that bore the traits of a nationally restricted literature. Here we have one of the very few examples of baroque music in which the influence of folk music on art music is more than mere wishful thinking. Some of the syncopated patterns of Spanish folk music that are to be found even in the renaissance villancico are as striking today as they were several hundred years ago. The villancico, the favorite form of secular polyphonic music, appeared sometimes also in sacred music. It corresponded formally to the frottola which had long since fallen into oblivion in Italy. Written sometimes in a slightly polyphonic but always in an extremely rhythmic style, It consisted of a couplet or copla for solo voices and a choral refrain or estribillo. It was frequently inserted into spoken plays, ballets, and other stage productions. The Cancionero de Sablonara contains many examples of the form by Romero and Juan Blas who set to music the lyrics of Lope de Vega, the leading Spanish poet of the time.



Opera in Spain, Zarzuela

The few but illustrious attempts to establish a national Spanish opera were overshadowed from the very beginning by Italian influence. The music of the first Spanish opera is not extant, a fate that it shares with the first opera of nearly every country. It was set to Lope de Vega's La Selva sin amor (1629). From the preface it can be inferred that the opera was through-composed, probably with recitatives. Not before the middle baroque period did the music of a Spanish opera survive, at least in fragmentary form: Celos aun del aire matan (1660) by Juan Hidalgo. It was based on a libretto by Calderon, who had already written a libretto for another opera, the music of which is also not extant. Although Hidalgo's music faithfully reflects in its short arias and its flexible recitative refrains the middle baroque stage of the Italian opera, it has nevertheless an unmistakable Spanish flavor. His arias include modest variations on simple dance-like basses in hemiola rhythm. These basses fell into two parts, the second of which was merely a literal transposition of the first--a device that frequently recurs in folk music.


The opera in Spain held second place beside the zarzuela, a courtly stage entertainment which derived its name from the royal mansion where it was first performed. The zarzuela occupied the best composers and poets of the time) including Calderon. It can be described as the Spanish parallel to the French ballet de cour and the English court masque. The three courtly forms had in common the alternation of spoken and concerted sections and the emphasis on stage sets, costumes, and ballets. Spanish dances with guitar accompaniment gave the music of the zarzuela its national character. The dialogue, choruses, villancicos, and seguidillas that freely alternated with occasional recitatives were written in an unassuming style, only the more pretentious cuatro de empezar, the introductory quartet, mustered polyphonic resources. Of the middle baroque zarzuela only very little music has come down to us. Its leading masters were Juan de Navas, Marin, and Berés whose burlesque tonada of an enamored old man deserves mention for its harmonic and rhythmic characterization. The late baroque zarzuela is represented by such shining lights as Durón, Literes, and the prolific José de Nebra who wrote the music to Calderon's La Vida es Sueño. Literes adopted in his zarzuela Acis y Galatea (1708) a subject that Handel also treated in a masque, the airy tone of the Neapolitan opera. Although the late baroque zarzuelas were dominated by Italian, especially Neapolitan, influence they preserved in their dances at least a rest of their former independence.



Music In The New World

The music in the Western Hemisphere, New Spain and Colonial America, naturally depended wholly on musical imports from the mother countries. The Spanish missionaries who regarded music as an important tool in the conversion of natives were the first on the American continent to print music though it was exclusively Gregorian chant. The part-music imported to Mexico consisted of conservative Spanish church music. In the second part of the seventeenth century Lima was an important center of musical activity. Here José Diaz composed on American soil the music to the stage works of Calderon. A Peruvian codex of the seventeenth century, one of the very few musical documents of the seventeenth century that have survived in the Western Hemisphere, contain some part-music written in a popular Spanish style.


The music of the early settlers in North America was restricted mainly to psalm singing. The immigrants had brought over from England the traditional psalters of which only those of Ainsworth and Ravenscroft belong to the baroque period. Secular music, especially instrumental music, was a hotly contested issue among the Puritans. That some secular music was cultivated can be proved by implication, namely by the numerous prohibitions of the use of instruments and of dancing. However, practically no music of the seventeenth century has survived save the psalms. The psalm singing was done from memory and was later aided by the practice of "lining out" the psalm line by line. The oral tradition distorted the tunes more and more by "graces" so that by the end of the century a unification became necessary because the singing had deteriorated into “a horrid medley of confused and disorderly sounds," as Thomas Walter described it. The Bay Psalm Book (1640), published originally without music, contained in its ninth edition (1698) a two-part version of twelve metrical psalms; it represents the first part-music ever printed on the American continent. In spite of Puritan opposition the teaching and reading of music made progress. The first American singing-books, based on English models (Ravenscroft and Playford) were John Tuft's Introduction to the whole Art of Singing Psalms (c. 1714), and Thomas Walter's Grounds and Rules of Musick (1721) which included several three-part settings, copied from Playford's psalter.


The German and Swedish immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania introduced polyphonic chorale singing into America. Not restricted by the Puritan caution against instrumental music, they freely employed organs in their services, the novelty of which served "to attract many of the young people away from the Quakers," as a contemporary report puts it. The German Pietist Conrad Beissel founded a mystic sect in Ephrata and composed a great number of hymns and chorales for its services. A reflection of this literature can be found in the Ephrata hymn collection, published without music by Benjamin Franklin in 1730. The highest musical level was attained by the Moravians in Bethlehem who in 1741 organized a musical life in their secluded community that surpassed all other musical centers of the time. The music they brought over was naturally dependent on the German late baroque style. However, the greatest period of Moravian music falls into the classic era.


Carl Pachelbel, a son of the famous German organist, was perhaps the most distinguished professional musician in America before 1750. He gave a public concert in New York (1736) and served as organist, first in Newport, Rhode Island, and then, until his death (1750), in Charleston. An impressive Magnificat for soli and chorus, written in a vigorous late baroque style, attests to his attainment as composer, but the piece was not performed in this country during his lifetime. In Charleston, Pachelbel came in contact with John Wesley. It is significant in view of the close relations between Methodist hymnody and Protestant chorale that Wesley was well acquainted with the German chorale and that he owned a copy of the Pietistic hymn and chorale book by Freylinghausen. Wesley's first hymn book was published in Charleston (1737), but it contains no music. The numerous concerts in the cities, around 1750, and the performances of the ballad opera Flora in Charleston (1735) and of The Beggar's Opera in Maryland (1752) show how quickly the stylistic trends of the mother country found their repercussions in the colonies.


The Composers

Name and link to Whent´s Bibliography Years Country # of PDF/Midi Discography MP3
Aguilera de Heredia c1565-1627 Spain . . .
Juan Arañés 15??-c1649 Spain cpdl=1 Discography .
Juan De Araujo 1646-1712 Spain cpdl=1 Discography .
Juan Bautista José [Juan Bautista Josep] Cabanilles (Cavanilles] 1644-1712 Spain . . .
Francisco López Capillas 1612-1673 Mexico cpdl=1 Discography MP3
Joan Cererols 1618-1676 Catalan cpdl=4 . .
Manuel Rodrigues Coelho  c1555-after 1633 Portugal . . .
Juan Comes 1568-1643 Spain . Discography .
Francisco Correa de Araujo c.1576-1654 Spain . Discography .
Francisco Courcelle 1705-1778 Italy/France . Discography .
Sebastián Durón 1660-1716 Spain . . .
Gaspar Fernandes c.1570-1629 Portugal cpdl=4 Discography .
Hernando [Fernando] Franco 1532-1585 Spain cpdl=3 Discography MP3
(Johann Christian) Gottlieb Graupner 1767-1836 Germany . . .
Francisco Guerau c.1659-? Spain . Discography .
Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla c.1590-1664 Spain cpdl=4 Discography .
Juan Perez Bocanegra 1598?-fl.1631 Spain? . Discography .
Juan Hidalgo 1612/16-1685 Spain . Discography .
Antonio Literes Carrión 1673?-1747 Spain . Discography .
frei Filipe da Madre de Deus c.1630-1690 Portugal . Discography .
José (Melchor de) Nebra (Blasco) 1702-1768 Spain . Discography .
Carl Theodorus [Charles Theodore] Pachelbel 1690-1750 Germany/Carolina . . .
Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla 1590?-1664 Spain cpdl=4 Discography .
Juan Pujol 1573-1626 Spain cpdl=1 . .
João Lourenço Rebelo 1610-1661 Portugal . Discography .
Mateo Romero [Mathieu Rosmarin] 1575(6-1647 Holland/Spain . . .
Antonio de Salazar [Zalazar] c1650-1715 Spain/Mexico . . .
Santiago de Murcia c.1682-c.1740 Spain . . .
Bartolomé de Selma y Salaverde c.1580-c.1640 Spain . . .
Manuel de Sumaya [Zumaya] c.1678-1755 Mexico . . .
Tomas de Torrejon y Velasco 1644-1728 Spain/Peru cpdl=3 Discography MP3
José de Torres y Martinez c1670-1738 Spain cpdl=2 Discography .
Melchor De Torres y Portugal 17th C Portugal . Discography .
Francisco Valls 1665-1747 Spain cpdl=70 . .
Francisco de Vidales c.1630-1702 Spain/Mexico . Discography .
Juan Gutierres de Padilla c.1590-1664 Spain/Mexico . Discography .
Domenico Zipoli 1688-1726 Italy cpdl=1 . .

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