Juan del Encina

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Aliases: Juan dell Enzina; Juan del Encina; Juan del Enzina; Juan de la Encina


Born: 12 July 1468

Died: 1529


Born in Salamanca, Spain, in July 12, 1468, his original name was "Juan de Fermoselle", adopting "del Encina" in 1490 (perhaps his mother's last name). In the Universidad de Salamanca (Salamanca University) he studied Law, achieving his doctorate. Despite his father being a shoemaker, some of del Encina's brothers received a good education and reached important positions; one of them (probably the oldest one), Diego de Fermoselle, was head of music in Salamanca University and one of his works remains in the "Cancionero Musical de Palacio" (Palace's Music Songbook).

In 1490, del Encina became Choir Chaplain at Salamanca Cathedral, a job that he forfeited by not becoming a priest, serving instead (1492-1502) at some aristocratic courts (for example, the Duke of Alba). Meanwhile, del Encina tried to become the main singer at the Cathedral, but in vain, because the position was given to his colleague (and some kind of Nemesis, for some people), Lucas Fernández. But what del Encina didn't attain in Spain, he received in Rome. In 1502 Alessandro VI (Pope) finally gave him the position at the Cathedral. The favour that del Encina was held in at the Vatican continued under the next Pope: Julius II, who gave to him the position of "Arcediano" at Malaga Cathedral.

In 1519, del Encina was finally ordained a priest and decided to celebrate his first mass in Jerusalem. From 1519 until his death, del Encina was Prior of Leon Cathedral.

The exact date of his death remains unknown, but it could have been late in 1529 or at the beginning of 1530, because his will was open on January 14, 1530, and his position as Prior in Leon was transferred to another on January 10.

Del Encina not only was a great composer, but a good poet as well. Today we have just 61 of his musical works (it's not known how much is lost). The main source of his music is the "Cancionero Musical de Palacio" mentioned above, but it is not the only one. The following also contain works by him:

  • Cancionero Musical de Segovia (circa 1500?)
  • Firenze (National Library) Magl. XIX, 107 bis
  • Frottole libro secondo (Rome: Antico), c.1516. (Bibl. Marucelliana, Firenze)
  • Cancionero Musical de Barcelona (Central Libray, MS454)
  • Cancionero Musical de Elva (Hortensia Library, MS11793)
  • D.B. (D. Joao IV, King of Portugal, Lisboa 1649, Venice 1666)

Main source of this article: Juan del Encina Poesía Lírica y Cancionero Musical, Ed. Castalia, Madrid, 1975.

View the Wikipedia article on Juan del Encina.

List of choral works

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