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Alonso Lobo

born: 25 February 1555
died: 5 April 1617
country: Spain

Alonso Lobo was born in 1555 in Osuna, a town about fifty miles from Seville. After rising to a canonry in the collegiate church at Osuna, he was appointed in 1591 as aide, and no doubt probable successor, to the then elderly Francisco Guerrero in Seville. His reputation by this time must have been considerable, since the Sevillian Chapter offered him his position without the usual formal tests of musicianship. He remained at Seville from September 1591 until the same month in 1593, when he was elected to the post of maestro de capilla at Toledo Cathedral, in succession to Ginés de Boluda. Later, in 1604, Lobo returned to Seville when he became chapel master at the Cathedral, remaining there until his death in April 1617.

His most important surviving works are six Masses (one a parody on Palestrina’s Pentecost motet O rex gloriae), and seven devotional motets published in Madrid in 1602 under the composer’s supervision. Apart from their presence in such major centres as the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and Coimbra in Portugal, copies of this publication found their way to the New World, no fewer than five of them still being extant in Mexico today. These and other works of Lobo were in use in Spain, Portugal and Mexico for more than two centuries after his death: his Lamentations were re-copied in a Seville choirbook in 1772: and his Credo Romano was obligatory at Seville on Sundays, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, and some other days, according to the Cathedral Chapter rules of 1648.

All the motets in the 1602 publication are now published in modern performing editions by Mapa Mundi. The quality of these seven motets is consistently high and individual. The emphasis is upon expression and beauty of sound in an atmosphere of intense but non dramatic religious devotion. The voices are written occasionally with some angularity but always for some expressive purpose. The Roman smoothness and perfection of line that we find in Palestrina and even in Victoria is not characteristic. The style is provincial in the proper sense; just as the style of Byrd, Weelkes, and Gibbons was peculiarly English, so the motets of Lobo and his contemporaries, Esquivel and Vivanco, are beginning to be recognized as peculiarly Spanish.

from notes by Bruno Turner © 1985

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