Juan de Araujo

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Biography

Born: 1646; Villafranca de los Barros, Extremadura, Spa   Died: 1712; La Plata, Argentina  
Though Spanish by birth, Juan de Araujo generally became recognized as the greatest South American composer of his time. His output, exclusively devoted to the vocal/choral realm from the early and mid-Baroque period, was made up of 142 villancicos and 16 religious works. But Araujo most likely wrote many other compositions that did not survive.

Juan de Araujo was born in Villafranca de los Barros, Extremadura, Spain, in 1646. As a child
Read more he was taken by his father, a civil servant, to Lima, Peru. He studied at San Marcos University there in his early twenties, but Araujo probably also took music instruction around this time from Tomás de Torrejón y Velasco, composer and choirmaster at the Lima Cathedral. Araujo may also have begun preparing for the priesthood during these years of study.

Because of his participation in a student intrigue against the local government, Araujo was expelled from the city by the Viceroy of Peru. Araujo relocated to Panama and served as a choirmaster there, a fact suggesting that he was already an accomplished musician by the late 1660s. He was ordained a priest in Panama and then in 1672 returned to Lima, apparently forgiven of his student transgression.

From 1672 until 1676 Araujo served as choirmaster at the Lima Cathedral. Events in the next four years of his life are not known for certain, though he seems to have relocated to Cuzco, Peru, where several of his manuscripts were found. He may have had connections there with the San Antonio Abad Seminary, whose library housed these manuscripts, and perhaps with the Cuzco Cathedral.

In 1680 Araujo secured the post of choirmaster at the La Plata Cathedral, in Bolivia. He remained in this position until his death in 1712. Most of his works were composed during this Bolivian phase of his career. Typically, they were written for 8 to 10 voices and, because Araujo was quite adept at training choirboys, their scoring generally involved boys' voices. Read less