A chapel singer from boyhood, Spanish composer Juan Vásquez left few traces of himself beyond some important published collections of music, most of it secular. Vásquez was born sometime around 1500; his engagement in 1511 as a "contralto" at the cathedral of Plasencia indicates that he was still a boy at that time. He doesn't appear in any other records for nearly 20 years. In late 1530 he turns up at Badajoz Cathedral, teaching plainchant toRead more the choirboys. The year 1539 finds him singing in Palencia Cathedral; he seems to have gone to Madrid in 1541, but by 1545 he was back in provincial Badajoz as the cathedral's chapel master. In 1551, he was on the payroll of Seville's Don Antonio de Zuñiga, to whom Vásquez dedicated his collection that year of Villancicos I canciones. It's thought that Vásquez remained in Seville until his death, which may have been around 1560.
His sole surviving work of sacred music is the Agenda defunctorum of 1556; the music employs both plainchant and polyphony, with his best and most extensive use of polyphony to be found in the Requiem from that collection. The bulk of Vásquez's compositions, though, are secular villancicos, employing texts by leading Spanish poets of the day. Many of them also include folk poetry and allude to Spanish folk song styles, and they seem to have been quite popular during the composer's lifetime. Read less
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