Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Music of Colonial Latin America

Too much neglected is some of the gorgeous music of colonial Latin America -- especially its Renaissance-style polyphony and Baroque works.

In this post, I simply wish to present a brief collection of some of the more impressive works that I have heard -- along with imagery of the architectural and artistic treasures of the Spanish and Portuguese New World.

I shall start in the north, in the old Viceroyalty of New Spain, and proceed south.


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The Viceroyalty of New Spain at its geographical greatest extent

The Spanish-born Hernando Franco (+1585AD) who was musically active in Guatemala and Mexico is certainly one of the most impressive composers writing in the New World.  His is the style of Renaissance polyphony -- a la Tomas Luis de Vittoria.  Here is a setting he wrote of the Salve Regina; worthy of note, too, is that the Church featured in the images of this video is the Church of Santa Prisca in the silver-mining town of Taxco, just south of Mexico City in the modern state of Guerrero:

Also from Mexico, composed by the Portuguese-born Gaspar Fernandes (+1629), is this Piezas para la entrada del Virrey don Diego Fernández de Córdoba.  These pieces were written, as the name implies, for the arrival in Puebla, Mexico of the Viceroy of New Spain, Diego Fernández de Córdoba y López de las Roelas, Marquis of Guadalcázar and Count of Posadas (Viceroy of New Spain, 1612-1621AD):

Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (+1664) was a Spanish-born composer who was mainly active in Puebla, Mexico, and head of the choir in that city.  This is a setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah; the images in this video are from Puebla, Mexico -- again giving you an idea of the architecture of colonial New Spain -- and featuring the splendid cathedral there.


Moving, then, to South America, and the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru (which give rise to the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717 and the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata in 1776AD).

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A map of the Viceroyalty of Peru at its greatest extent, around 1650AD -- including: 1) Audiencia of Panama [to New Granada, 1717]; 2) Audiencia of Bogotá [to New Granada, and seat of the new viceroy, 1717]; 3) Audiencia of Quito [to New Granada, 1717]; 4) Audiencia of Lima [seat of the Viceroy]; 5) Audiencia of Las Charcas [to Rio de la Plata, 1776AD]; 6) Audiencia of Santiago.

This delightful little piece is entitled Dos Cachuas and was written for Bishop Baltasar Jaime Martínez Compañón (Bishop of Trujillo, Peru from 1779-1790, and Archbishop of Santa Fe de Bogotá from 1790 to his death in 1797) and included in the "Códice Trujillo del Perú."

This piece, dating to 1631AD, is of Peruvian origin -- it seems it was published by a Fransciscan, Juan Pérez de Bocanegra, and employing the native Quechua language.  It is called, Hanacpachap cussicuinin, and is a processional hymn to Our Lady:

Estacio Lacerna (+1625AD), born in Seville and died in Peru.  This is an organ work of his, entitled, Tiento de sexto tono, with photos of the Convent of Santa Clara de Sucre (Bolivia):

Domenico Zipoli (+1726) was a Tuscan musician who joined the Jesuits in 1716 to come work in the missions.  He was an organist and composer in Cordoba, Argentina, until his death.  Just recently discovered is this delightful setting of the Mass, Missa San Ignacio.  This particular Mass gives you a very good idea of what was popular, and performed, in these Jesuit Reduction missions -- "[o]ne manuscript is dated fifty-eight years after the composer's death 'copied in Potossi 1784.'"  This selection is the Gloria:


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The Viceroyalty of Brazil in 1789.

The great colony of Portugal in the Americas, Brazil, also contributed to the musical wealth of the New World.

First, a religious piece for Christmas -- not sacred for liturgical use, but for popular use outside of Mass -- Matais de Incêndios, thought to be by António Marques Lésbio (+1709).

This is a Te Deum by Luís Álvares Pinto (+1789), a Brazilian-born, and Lisbon-trained composer:

Finally, a Salve Regina, this one by Inacio Parreiras Nevas (born 1730; died 1794AD), a composer from the state of Minas Gerais.  This video presents images of that state, in particular the town of Ouro Preto, and its colonial architecture:

If you wish to listen to more colonial Latin American music, this is a great page on YouTube:

Live well!

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