Juan del Encina

Last updated

Juan del Encina
Juan del Enzina Leon.JPG
Bust of Juan del Enzina in León
BornJuly 12, 1468
possibly Fermoselle, Encina de San Silvestre or La Encina, Castile
Died1529 (aged 6061)
Toledo, Spain
OccupationPlaywright, poet, musician
Nationality Castilian, Spanish
Alma mater University of Salamanca
Literary movement Renaissance humanism
Spanish Renaissance
Notable worksCancionero, Égloga de Plácida y Vitoriano

Juan del Encina – (July 12, 1468 – 1529 or 1530) [1] was a composer, poet, and playwright, [2] :535 often called the founder, along with Gil Vicente, of Spanish drama. [1] His birth name was Juan de Fermoselle. [1] He spelled his name Enzina, but this is not a significant difference; it is two spellings of the same sound, in a time when "correct spelling" as we know it barely existed.

Gil Vicente Portuguese writer

Gil Vicente, called the Trobadour, was a Portuguese playwright and poet who acted in and directed his own plays. Considered the chief dramatist of Portugal he is sometimes called the "Portuguese Plautus," often referred to as the "Father of Portuguese drama" and as one of Western literature's greatest playwrights. Also noted as a lyric poet, Vicente worked in Spanish as much as he worked in Portuguese and is thus, with Juan del Encina, considered joint-father of Spanish drama.



He was born in 1468 near Salamanca, [1] probably at Encina de San Silvestre, one of at least 7 known children of Juan de Fermoselle, a shoemaker, and his wife. [3] He was of Jewish converso descent. [1] [4] After leaving Salamanca University sometime in 1492 [1] he became a member of the household of Don Fadrique de Toledo, the second Duke of Alba, although some sources believe that he did not work for the Duke of Alba until 1495. [3] A plausible argument is that his first post was as a Corregidor in northern Spain. [3]

Salamanca Place in Castile and León, Spain

Salamanca is a city in western Spain that is the capital of the Province of Salamanca in the community of Castile and León. The city lies on several hills by the Tormes River. Its Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. With a metropolitan population of 228,881 in 2012 according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), Salamanca is the second most populated urban area in Castile and León, after Valladolid (414,000), and ahead of León (187,000) and Burgos (176,000).

Encina de San Silvestre Municipality in Castile and León, Spain

Encina de San Silvestre is a village and municipality in the province of Salamanca, western Spain, part of the autonomous community of Castile and León. It is located 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the provincial capital city of Salamanca and has a population of 111 people.

<i>Converso</i> Jewish-descended community in Spain

A converso, "convert", was a Jew who converted to Roman Catholicism in Spain or Portugal, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries, or one of their descendants.

Fermoselle was a Chaplain at the Salamanca Cathedral in the early 1490s. [3] It was here that he changed his name from Juan de Fermoselle to Juan del Enzina, or Encina (meaning holm oak) during his stay as Chaplain. [3] He was later forced to resign as Chaplain because he was not ordained. [3]


Book cover of his chansonnier's first edition (1496): Cancionero de todas las obras de Juan del Enzina con otras cosas nueuamente anadidas Enzina.gif
Book cover of his chansonnier's first edition (1496): Cancionero de todas las obras de Juan del Enzina con otras cosas nueuamente añadidas

In 1492 the poet entertained his patron with a dramatic piece, the Triunfo de la fama, written to commemorate the fall of Granada. [3] In 1496 he published his Cancionero, [3] a collection of dramatic and lyrical poems. He then applied for the cantor post at Salamanca Cathedral, but the position was divided among three singers, including his rival Lucas Fernandez. [3]

Granada Municipality in Andalusia, Spain

Granada is the capital city of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of four rivers, the Darro, the Genil, the Monachil and the Beiro. It sits at an average elevation of 738 m (2,421 ft) above sea level, yet is only one hour by car from the Mediterranean coast, the Costa Tropical. Nearby is the Sierra Nevada Ski Station, where the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 1996 were held.

While working for the Duke of Alba, Encina was the program director, along with Lucas Fernandez. [2] :537 Here Encina wrote pastoral eclogues, the foundation of Spanish secular drama. [1] Encina's plays are predominantly based on shepherds and unrequited love. [2] :540

Encina was ambitious, looking to be promoted based on preferment, [3] so around 1500 he relocated to Rome, where he apparently served in the musical establishments of several cardinals or noblemen. [1] Encina was appointed to the Archdiaconate of Malaga Cathedral by Julius II in 1508. [3]

In 1518 he resigned from position at Malaga for a simple benefice at Moron, and the following year he went to Jerusalem, [3] where he sang his first mass. [3] He also wrote about the events during his pilgrimage to Jerusalem in Tribagia o Via Sacra de Hierusalem. [1] In 1509 he had held a lay canonry at Málaga; [3] in 1519 he was appointed by Leon for the priorship of Leon Cathedral. [1] His last job was recorded as being in Leon, where he is thought to have died towards the end of 1529. [2] :438

His Cancionero is preceded by a prose treatise (Arte de trobar) on the condition of the poetic art in Spain. His fourteen dramatic pieces mark the transition from the purely ecclesiastical to the secular stage. [2] :539 The Aucto del Repelón and the Égloga de Fileno dramatize the adventures of shepherds; [2] :540 the latter, like Plácida y Vitoriano, is strongly influenced by the Celestina . The intrinsic interest of Encina's plays is slight, but they are important from the historical point of view, for the lay pieces form a new departure, and the devout eclogues prepare the way for the autos of the 17th century. Moreover, Encina's lyrical poems are remarkable for their intense sincerity and devout grace.

Even though his works were dedicated to royal families, he never served as a member of a royal chapel. [3] And even though Encina worked in many Cathedrals and was ordained as a priest, no religious musical works are known to still exist. [1] Most of his works were done by his mid-30's, [3] some 60 or more songs attributed to Encina, and another 9 settings of texts on top of that, to which the music could also be added, but not for certain. [3] Many of the surviving pieces are villancicos, of which he was a leading composer. [3] The Spanish villancico is the equivalent of the Italian Frottola. [3] There are three and four voice settings that offer a variety of styles depending on the kind of text, with very limited movements in the voices in preparation for the cadence points. [3] To make the text heard clearly, Encina used varied and flexible rhythms that are patterned on the accents of the verse, and used simple yet strong harmonic progressions. [3]

Leonese times

Encina held the priorship of Leon Cathedral from November 1523 until his final illness in December 1529. [1] Juan del Encina's will was presented on January 14, 1530, so the exact date of his death is not known, but it is thought to be in late 1529 or early 1530. [3] In his will he noted that he wanted to be buried beneath the choir of Salamanca Cathedral, [3] and in 1534 his remains were taken to the Cathedral. [2] :538

Leonese language influence

Juan del Encina wrote in Castillian with Leonese language influences [5] [ full citation needed ] in his pastoral eclogues. He was from Salamanca, a Leonese-speaking region, and eventually arrived at the capital of the long-vanished Kingdom of León, where he died.

He was also a songwriter for the church.[ which? ]

Selected works



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Slonimsky, Nicolas, ed. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians seventh edition. London, England: Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1984: 662
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Magill, Frank N., ed. Critical Survey of Drama: Foreign Language Series v2. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Salem Press, 1986.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 Pope, Isabel; Tess Knighton. Encina, Juan del. Sadie, Stanley, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 2nd edition. V8. New York City: Grove’s Dictionaries Inc., 2001: 194
  4. See, Norman Roth, "Conversos, Inquisition, and the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain", Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1995, pp. 157, 176–178.
  5. López Morales, "Elementos leoneses en la lengua del teatro pastoril de los siglos XV y XVI". 1967


Related Research Articles

Jordi Savall Spanish gambist, conductor and composer

Jordi Savall i Bernadet is a Catalan conductor and viol player. He has been one of the major figures in the field of Western early music since the 1970s, largely responsible for popularizing the viol family of instruments in contemporary performance and recording. His characteristic repertoire features medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, although he has occasionally ventured into the Classical and even the Romantic periods.

Hespèrion XXI musical ensemble

Hespèrion XXI is an international early music ensemble. The group was formed in Basel, Switzerland in 1974 as Hespèrion XX by Catalan musical director Jordi Savall, his wife Montserrat Figueras (soprano), Lorenzo Alpert, and Hopkinson Smith. The group changed its name to Hesperion XXI at the beginning of the 21st century. The name "Hespèrion" is derived from a word in Classical Greek which referred to the people of the Italian and Iberian peninsulas.

Folia type of musical composition

La Folía (Spanish), or Follies of Spain (English), also known as folies d'Espagne (French), Follia (Italian), and Folia (Portuguese), is one of the oldest remembered European musical themes, or primary material, generally melodic, of a composition, on record. The theme exists in two versions, referred to as early and late folias, the earlier being faster.

Carlos Mena age 15.

Montserrat Figueras Soprano, musician

Montserrat Figueras i García was a Catalan soprano who specialized in early music.

Frei Filipe da Madre de Deus was a Portuguese Baroque composer.

Cancionero de Palacio

The Cancionero de Palacio, or Cancionero Musical de Palacio (CMP), also known as Cancionero de Barbieri, is a Spanish manuscript of Renaissance music. The works in it were compiled during a time span of around 40 years, from the mid-1470s until the beginning of the 16th century, approximately coinciding with the reign of the Catholic Monarchs.

Xavier Díaz Latorre is a Spanish musician. Born in Barcelona in 1968, he studied at advanced level with Oscar Ghiglia at the Musikhochschule, Basel, graduating in 1993. His subsequent interest in early music led him to study the lute with Hopkinson Smith at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. He has completed several courses in choral conducting and a post-graduate course in orchestral conducting.

Capella de Ministrers is an early music group formed in 1987 in Valencia, Spain by Carles Magraner. Valencian music is prominent in its repertoire.

Juan Cornago was a Spanish composer in the transition from Ars nova to the Renaissance.

Rolf Lislevand, is a Norwegian performer of Early music specialising on lute, vihuela, baroque guitar and theorbo.

Juan Arañés was a Spanish baroque composer. His tonos and villancicos follow the style of those preserved in the Cancionero of Kraków.

Juan de Triana was a Spanish composer of the Renaissance period, active in the second half of the 15th century during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs. Pope Sixtus IV issued a bull on 9 February 1478 that listed De Triana as Prebendary of the Cathedral of Sevilla for at least a year before. He later moved to the Cathedral of Toledo, where it was recorded that in 1483 he was a teacher of six children in the Cathedral, with a salary of 18,000 maravedíes, a significant quantity at the time. Possibly Triana held this position until 1490, when he was replaced by Pedro de Lagarto. He died in Seville on 28 January 1494, and was buried near the gate of the chapel of the Virgen de la Antigua. In his will, he left a bequest to endow a chaplaincy to sing twenty-five masses a month for his soul at the altar of San Juan Bautista, near his place of burial.

Juan de Urrede or Juan de Urreda was a Flemish singer and composer active in Spain in the service of the Duke of Alba and King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. He was born Johannes de Wreede in Bruges.

Bartomeu Càrceres (fl. 1546) was a Spanish composer, notably of ensaladas.

Hanacpachap cussicuinin song

Hanacpachap cussicuinin is an anonymous hymn to the Virgin Mary in the Quechua language but in a largely European sacred music style. Composed before 1622, Franciscan friar Juan Pérez Bocanegra published it in 1631, making it the earliest work of vocal polyphony printed in the New World.

The Cancionero de la Colombina or Cancionero Musical de la Colombina (CMC) is a Spanish manuscript containing Renaissance music from the second half of the 15th century.

The Cancionero de Turin or Cancionero Musical de Turin is a musical manuscript that contains Spanish secular polyphonic works from the period between the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century, in the transition period between the Renaissance and the Baroque eras.

The Cancionero de Segovia or Cancionero Musical de Segovia (CMS), also known as Cancionero of the Segovia Cathedral, is a manuscript containing Renaissance music from the end of the 15th century and beginning of the 16th century. It contains a wide repertoire of works by mainly Spanish, French and Franco-Flemish composers. It is kept at the Segovia Cathedral Archives.