Born: c.1620 (J. A. Alegria, in Portugaliae Musica 50 1991, arrives at 1617 by various age requirement rules)
Died: 20 March 1680
The Portuguese composer Francisco Martins was born in Évora c.1620 or c.1625 and died in Elvas, 20 March 1680. He became a choirboy at Évora Catedral, where his uncle Domingos Martins de Almeida had been master of the choirboys from 1608 to c.1618. There have been appointed two possible dates: Domingos Barbosa Machado in his Bibliotheca Lusitana (1759) points to 20 June 1629, and José Augusto Alegria in his História da Escola de Música da Sé de Évora (1973) points towards 16 August 1634. Depending on the two dates, Martins would have studied either with Manuel Rebello (1629) or António Rodrigues Vilalva (1634).
By 27 December 1650, Martins was already a priest and was Mestre de Capela at Elvas Cathedral with the salary of 37,500 réis, a post which he held until his death.
Martins's music is still mostly in the stile antico although he has some secular works (as villancicos) for solo or two voices and continuo. His polyphonic music is inflected with chromaticism, expressiveness and a very emotional impact. This emotion is seen especially in the responsories for Holy Week. Besides the responsories, he also wrote psalms, motets, masses and the above-mentioned villancicos.
Although he was a Mestre de Capela in a lesser important Portuguese Cathedral, his music is very complex, being a depositary of the long tradition of Évora Cathedral. This example, like Morago's in Viseu Cathedral, demonstrates the high level of the music practiced in the Portuguese cathedrals during the 16th and 17th centuries. A music still in stile antico, but of high quality and complexity. Martins closes, together with Diogo Dias Melgás, the golden polyphonic era of Évora Cathedral music school.
List of choral works
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