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Francisco Guerrero
1528 - 1599
Spain
Picture
F. Guerrero
Francisco Guerrero (04/10/1528 - 08/11/1599), a Spanish composer, from Seville. When Francisco Pacheco (Velásquez’s father-in-law) came to nominate the leading composer of his age, he spared not a breath - as we might imagine he would - for such universally acknowledged luminaries as Palestrina, Lassus, Byrd or even Victoria. For him, the true musical light of Spain’s Golden Age was Francisco Guerrero. And few Spanish contemporaries would have taken issue with his description of Guerrero as «most outstanding in his time, in the Art of Music». For the poet Vicente Espinel, Guerrero’s imagination generated «works of such lasting merit and universal significance that no future age will produce a master who combines so many gifts». Today, of course, we are more accustomed to thinking of Victoria as the colossus of Spanish Renaissance music, yet in his day it was Guerrero who carried the palm. It is Guerrero, rather than Victoria, for whom a likeness is preserved. It is a fine portrait that was published in 1599, the year of the composer’s death, by Francisco Pacheco in the same book that eulogises his accomplishment as a composer. But for some idea of Guerrero’s personality, it is to the composer’s own writings that we must turn. His bestselling Viaje de Hierusalem (Journey to Jerusalem) dramatically recounts the tale of his 1588-9 voyage to the Holy Land. He describes the music he heard at Mass celebrated on the island of Zákinthos, a terrifyingly close shave with a drunk on horseback who before the composer’s eyes slit open a Turk’s head in Damascus, and two encounters with pirates, during one of which he was captured, imprisoned, and held to ransom. And if Guerrero himself was unusually well travelled, his works - being performed as far afield as Mexico, Guatemala and Lima - were even more so.
His books of masses, motets and villanescas (a genre entirely eschewed by Victoria) were published in Louvain, Paris, Venice and Rome as well as in his native Seville. And manuscript copies of his works circulated even farther afield. As Spain’s principal port, wealthy Seville was the daily destination of galleons arriving from the New World loaded with the gold and silver afforded by its monopoly on New World trade. Its cathedral - one for the world’s largest - was the site of splendid ceremonies: secular, sacred, civic and popular. And it was this cathedral’s lavishly endowed musical establishment that Guerrero headed from 1554 until his death in 1599. Francisco Guerrero was born in Seville, whose Cathedral choir he joined in 1542. At the age of 17 he was invited to become maestro de capilla of the Cathedral in nearby Jaén. He later returned to Seville where he accepted a prebend as a singer and served as assistant to the aging maestro de capilla. Finally, in 1574, he was appointed to the post of chapelmaster himself. In addition to 19 masses, he published over 150 liturgical pieces and motets.
Author:Michael Noone
Source:Grove's dictionary of music and musicians
Requiem
Period:High Renaissance
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Guerro has written two requiem masses.
Source:Propylaën - Welt der Musik - Die Komponisten
Contributor:Tassos Dimitriadis
Missa defunctorum
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1559
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:53'60''
Label(s):Glossa CD 921402
Signum SIGCD017
A requiem for four voices.
Probably first version: Missa defuntorum, 1559, Rome
Renewed published: Missa pro defunctis, 1566, Paris
Revised version: Missa pro defunctis, 1582, Rome
The most common recording is an attempt to imagine the requiem mass and Burial Service that was celebrated in Seville’s great Cathedral after the composer’s death. On November 3, 1599, the Dean and chapter of Seville Cathedral met to discuss Guerrero’s grave illness. A week later the Chapter authorised the singers to celebrate a requiem mass for the repose of his soul and it was decided that he would be buried in the Cathedral’s chapel of Nuestra Señora de la Antigua with all the honours due to a deceased prebendary: "En este dicho dia cometieron a los señores mayordomo de fabrica contador señalen en nuestra señora del antigua sepoltura al maestro francisco guerrero i mandaron lo entierren como a prebendado con su novenario lo qual se hizo por gracia atento a sus servicios."
Though no precise musical details about the ceremony have come down to us, it seems likely that Guerrero’s own setting of the requiem mass would have been sung by the musicians with whom he had lived and worked for over 40 years. His Requiem was first published in Paris in 1566 (although Robert Snow has uncovered evidence to suggest that it appeared in a now lost Roman publication of 1559). In 1582, a revised version of the Requiem was published in Rome. It is this version, revised in accordance with liturgical reforms brought about by the Council of Trent (1545-1563), that would have been sung at Seville in the late sixteenth century and which is performed on this recording. The reforms, which were formally embraced in Seville in January 1575, brought Sevillian usage into conformity with the Roman Missal of 1570. In his revision, Guerrero omitted the obsolete tract "Sicut cervus", replacing it with the new "Absolve Domine". He added a new setting of the responsory "Libera me", the six-voice motet "Hei mihi, Domine" and two new settings of the "Communion", one for four voices and one for five voices. It is the latter that appears on the recording Glossa CD 921402.
Guerrero, ever the perfectionist, took the opportunity of republication to make minor improvements to most of the movements of the earlier version that could serve the revised liturgy without change. There can be no doubt about the quality of this music. Indeed, Robert Stevenson places this Requiem "...among the most magnificent and dramatic..." of Guerrero’s creations. One of the remarkable features of Seville Cathedral’s music making was the participation of ministriles who played shawms, cornetts, sackbuts and dulcians. Indeed, in 1526 it was the canons of Seville Cathedral who formally established the earliest known Cathedral wind band in Spain. In 1553, the canons decided to offer long term contracts to the wind musicians, agreeing that it would be "...a very useful thing... to make use of every kind of instrumental music in this cathedral: especially since it is so famous and splendid a temple and of such large dimensions... and moreover all other Spanish cathedrals, though many enjoy much smaller incomes, make constant use of instrumental music..." ("hera cosa muy decente y conforme a la divina escritura que la dicha sancta yglesia fuese servida y con todo genero de musica onesta como son los dichos menestriles por que siendo tan ynsigne y grande templo como lo es tiene muncha necesidad de la dicha musica por su sonorosidad pues los tienen todas las yglesias catedrales despaña de muncho menos posibilidad"). One imagines the Cathedral musicians playing for Guerrero’s own Requiem with all the skill and expertise which made Seville one of the peninsula’s most illustrious musical centres. In addition to possessing a fine high tenor voice, Guerrero himself played harp, vihuela, organ and cornett and there seems little doubt that all of these instruments would have been employed by the musicians who played for the composer’s own requiem mass. Given the present state of our knowledge, we cannot say for certain what precise versions of the plainsong melodies would have been performed in Seville Cathedral at the end of the sixteenth century for a requiem mass. For this recording (i.c. Glossa GCD021402) we have relied upon a variety of contemporary Spanish sources, most notably Francisco de Montanos’s Arte de canto llano (Salamanca, 1610 and 1616). This remarkable compendium of chant melodies contains a little-known melody for the Dies Irae that is recorded here for the first time. In its "Pie Jesu" we have imagined what kind of elaboration Guerrero’s former colleagues might have invented for the culminating verse of this wonderful melody.
This Requiem contains:
- Introit
- Kyrie
- Gradual
- Tract II
- Offertory
- Sanctus
- Benedictus
- Agnus Dei
- Communion I
- Communion II
- Dismissal
- Tract I
Author:Michael Noone
Missa pro defunctis
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1566
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Label(s):Signum SIGCD017
This Mass is written for four voices ATTB and contains:
Introitus: Requiem aeternam
Kyrie
Graduale: Requiem aeternam
In memoria aeterna. à 3 vocibus
Non timebunt
Tractus !: Dixit Dominus
Et omnis qui vivit. à 3 vocibus
In aeternum
Tractus II: Sicut servus
Sitivit anima mea
Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe
Quam olim Abrahae
Hostias et preces tibi Domine
Sanctus
Benedictus
Agnus Dei I, II, III
Communicanda I: Lux aeterna
Communicanda II: Lux aeterna à 5 vocibus
First Missa pro defunctis published in Liber primus Missarum …, Paris 1566 and is written for four voices ATTB except Communicande II which is written for five voices. Due to the new Liturgy carried out by the Council of Trent Guerrero had made up his mind to chance this 1566 Mass version into a new version published in Rome 1582. See for further comment on this item author Michael Noon on this site (1559).
Author:Wim Goossens
Hei mihi, Domini
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1570
Musical form:motet à 6
Text/libretto:Latin
Label(s):VOOM 799, 1998/1999
A motet from the Responsum Ad Matutinum de Officium Defunctorum for six voices. This setting by Guerrero was published in Venice, Motetta, 1570. This six part motet leaves a lasting and resting impression because of the chosen counterpoint by Guerrero that is very calm and in fact showing full resignation, nevertheless this motet is full of warm tension. Due to an excellent musically attendance of the imploring words by Guerrero this motet can be called one of his masterpieces.
Author:Wim Goossens
The text of this motet:

Heu mihi Domine quia peccavi nimis, in vita mea:
quid faciam miser?
ubi fugiam nisi ad te Deus meus?
Miserere mei dum veneris in novissimo die.
Anima mea turbata est valde sed tu Domine succurre ei:
miserere mei dum veneris in novissimo die.

Translation:
Woe is me, Lord, for I have sinned greatly.
What shall become of me, wretch that I am;
where shall I flee, except to Thee, O Lord.
Have mercy on me when Thou shalt come on the last day.
My soul is greatly troubled but Thou, O Lord, sustainest me:
have mercy on me when Thou shalt come on the last day.
Contributor:Wim Goossens
Missa pro defunctis
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1582
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
This Mass is written for four voices ATTB and contains:
Introitus: Requiem aeternam
Kyrie
Graduale: Requiem aeternam
In memoria aeterna. à 3 vocibus
Non timebunt
Tractus : Absolve me
Et gratia tua
Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe
Quam olim Abrahae
Hostias et preces tibi Domine
Sanctus
Benedictus
Responsorium: Hei Mihi. à 6 vocibus
Agnus Dei I, II, III
Communio I: Lux aeterna
Communio II: Lux aeterna.à 5 vocibus
Responsorium: Libera me Domine
Tremens factus sum. à 3 vocibus
Dies illa, dies irae. à 3 vocibus
Requiem aeternam
Libera me Domine
First Missa pro defunctis published in Missarum Liber secundus …, Rome 1582 and is written for four voices ATTB except the Responsory Hei Mihi and Cummunio II Lux aeterna which are respectively written for six and five voices. Due to the new Liturgy carried out by the Council of Trent (1545 – 1563) Guerrero had made up his mind to chance the 1566 Mass version into this version published in Rome 1582 . I have followed the original score of 1582 and comes to another division. See for further comment on this item author Michael Noon on this site (1559).
Author:Wim Goossens