The Kennedy Center

Juan Vazquez


Juan Vazquez was a Spanish priest and composer of the renaissance era.  He was a member of the School of Andalusia.  And he is best remembered for his sacred musical composition Agenda Defunctorum 1556.   
Not much is known of his life, but it is believed that he was probably born in Badajoz, Spain around the 1500s.  He grew up in Badajoz and studied in Seville.  Historical records first cite his name around 1511 as being a boy singer with a contralto singing voice with a low tessitura range somewhere between tenor and mezzo soprano, he was hired at the Cathedral of Plasencia in October 1511.  Historical records again find him sometime around 1530, he is in the chapel of the Badajoz Cathedral serving as a choirboy and later as a teacher of the boy singers teaching plainchant/chants to choirboys.  In 1535 he was appointed a sochantre or succentor, the second singer at the cathedral singing palms, responses and Preces; he was basically a minor canon.  By 1539 he was a singer at the Cathedral of Palencia in Burgos, where he became known as a composer.  In 1541 the Archbishop of Toledo, Juan Tavera paid him to come to Madrid to serve his Court, however, he did not stay there very long.  In 1545 he returned to his native city as Maestro di Capilla of the Badajoz Cathedral until 1550.  In 1551 he was serving at the Andalusian House of Zuniga for Sevillian nobleman Don Antonia de Zuniga.  He dedicated a collection of secular music, Villancicos y canciones a tres y a cuatro written in 1551 to Don Antonio de Zuñiga.  His greatest success and fame came from writing his secular music.  He was considered to be a member of the School of Andalusia and his contemporaries were Francisco Guerrero, Cristóbal de Morales and Juan Navarro Hispalensis.
His other successful compositions that were published are Villancicos y canciones a tres y a cuatro written in Seville and Agenda Defunctorum Office of the Dead written and published in Seville in 1556.  In 1560 his last publication, a collection all his secular compositions, was published in Recopilatión de sonetos y villancicos.  He lived in Seville until his death, which is believed to have been around 1560.
Juan Vazquez