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Miguel de Fuenllana

1500 | 1553-1578

Renaissance

(Vertaling nog niet beschikbaar) Spanish vihuelist and composer. He was blind from birth. The earliest evidence of him is the printing licence for Orphenica lyra (Seville, 1554/R1981; ed. C. Jacobs, Oxford, 1978), issued on 11 August 1553 by crown prince Philip, which affirms his presence at court in Valladolid. On 29 March 1554, now resident in Seville, Fuenllana contracted with Martín de Montesdoca to print 1000 copies of Orphenica lyra. The edition was completed on 2 October, though Wagner has shown the surviving copies to represent two variants of the same impression. In 1555, Fuenllana is described as a citizen of Seville in a legal action initiated to suppress a fraudulent edition of the book. According to Bermudo (Declaración, 1555), Fuenllana was in the employ of the Marquesa de Tarifa at this time, but he would have left her service by 1559 after the appointment of her husband, the Duke of Alcalá, as viceroy of Naples. From 1560 until June 1569 he served Isabel de Valois (d 1568), third wife of Philip II, with an annual salary of 50,000 maravedís. On 15 May 1574 Fuenllana entered the service of Don Sebastián of Portugal in Lisbon, with an initial contract for three years and an annual salary of 80,000 reales. Contradictory evidence clouds his life after 1578. Anglés claimed that Fuenllana's descendants received retrospective payment from the court in 1591 for money owed to their deceased father, while Jacobs cites a petition of 20 August 1621 presented to Philip IV by Doña Catalina de Fuenllana claiming that her father served Philip II and Philip III for more than 46 years, thus perhaps until 1606. Fuenllana's instrumental mastery was recognized by Bermudo who had witnessed him perform and cited him as a ‘consummate player’, praise echoed by Cristóbal Suárez de Figueroa (Plaza universal, 1615). Divided by genre into six books, Orphenica lyra contains 160 works for sixcourse vihuela, nine for five-course vihuela, and another nine for fourcourse guitar. Approximately one third of the works are original compositions: 51 fantasias, 8 tientos, 2 duos, counterpoints on secular melodies and hymn chants, a gloss on Sermisy's Tant que vivray, and an original motet Benedicamus patrem. Among the 119 intabulations are found motets, mass movements and other sacred works by Francisco Guerrero, Morales, Josquin and Gombert, 12 madrigals by Arcadelt and Verdelot, 12 villancicos by Vásquez, 6 villanescas by Pedro Guerrero, and 7 works by Flecha (including three complete ensaladas). The texted works are presented either with the voice ‘to be sung if desired’ printed in red ciphers as part of the tablature or with the vocal part notated separately in mensural notation. Fuenllana offers concise information on performing practice, including detailed descriptions of various aspects of instrumental technique, particularly plucking techniques: he is among the earliest to advocate alternation between the index and middle fingers. His explanation of placing the modes on ‘any part of the vihuela’ also suggests an instrument in equal temperament. Fuenllana's music is notable for its high level of technical difficulty. Although he seems to have been a progressive with regard to technique, his aesthetic values appear more conservative. With only a few exceptions, the intabulations are unadorned reductions of their vocal models, because he was ‘of the opinion that with glosses and ornaments the truth of a work is obscured’. The 51 fantasias display an exceptional mastery of instrumental composition and demonstrate Fuenllana's acknowledged debt to vocal style. Characteristic mid-century imitation is predominant, the remainder being non-imitative polyphony. The fantasias are built of episodes of 20–30 semibreves welded into cohesion by their narrative continuity. In most cases, successive episodes are linked by their internal logic into two or three larger periods that produce clearly discernible architectonic symmetry. Of the 23 fantasias paired with motets, two (nos.14 and 23) are parodies, which do not quote literally from their models but rework their materials with remarkable ingenuity. Fantasias 34 and 50 are based on an ostinato, while no.51 is based on idiomatic redobles. The tientos are short idiomatic works that present a modal cycle with some inexplicable anomalies.

Miguel de Fuenllana

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