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Cabezón, Antonio de

Birth and death dates: 
Castrillo de Matajudíos, Burgo, ca. 1510 — Madrid, 26-III-1596
Birth date: 
16/1 (1510)
Death date: 
16/4 (1596)
Type of musician: 



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In Andrés Cea Galán's words: This article takes as a starting point a concordance for the "Tiento de tercer tono" from Antonio de Cabezón's Obras de música to be found in manuscripts at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in Rome and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. This matter serves us to discuss different aspects related to the transmission of Antonio de Cabezón's works, from its improvisation or composition to the process of edition carried out by Hernando in 1578.

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One of the most striking characteristics of the music from the Spanish kingdoms at the time of Ferdinand and Isabel in comparison with other musical traditions of the same period is the relative scarcity of sources of instrumental and polyphonic music. This lack can partly be explained by the loss of many manuscript sources and the late introduction of music printing in Spain; El Maestro by Luis Milán, printed in 1536, is the earliest Spanish collection of solo instrumental music and accompanied songs, as well as the first printed Spanish tablature. However, there is a third reason: the importance of oral tradition in the transmission and performance of music in Spanish culture during the Renaissance, in both sacred and secular contexts. This essay will survey the different traditions of unwritten music in Spain at the time of the Catholic Monarchs: in the liturgical context, particular emphasis will be placed on the transmission and performing practices of extempore counterpoint and unwritten fabordones; and in the secular context, several aspects related to the oral repertory of vernacular songs, both polyphonic and accompanied, as well as instrumental music will be considered.

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Last modified: - 15 Feb 2020

How to cite

Andrea Puentes-Blanco, "Cabezón, Antonio de", Books of Hispanic Polyphony, ed. E. Ros-Fábregas (accession date: 26 Oct 2021),