Faà di Bruno, Giovanni Matteo [Horatio, Orazio] 83

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Fernandes, Gaspar

(b c1570; d Puebla, Mexico, before 18 Sept 1629). Central American composer and organist of Portuguese birth. In 1590 he was earning two salaries at Évora Cathedral: 3000 réis as a singer and a further 2000 presumably for playing the organ. On 16 July 1599 a priest of this name was engaged as organist of Guatemala Cathedral (at what is now Antigua) at an annual salary of 200 gold pesos; soon afterwards he was also named maestro de capilla, and his salary was doubled. In 1602 he copied six masses that remained in use at the cathedral until the 1760s. He left Guatemala on 12 July 1606. On 15 September 1606 he was named maestro de capilla of Puebla Cathedral at a yearly salary of 500 pesos, with a further 100 pesos for boarding and teaching the choirboys and 300 pesos for playing the organ. He relinquished his responsibility for the choirboys on 18 September 1608, but on 8 July 1616 he was again charged with teaching them polyphony. Because he and his choir provided unauthorized music for a funeral, he was dismissed from the cathedral on 14 July 1618, but he was reinstated a month later. His heavy duties finally told on his health, and on 8 June 1621 the chapter noted that musical discipline had deteriorated. On 11 October 1622 they engaged Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla to assist him and the two men worked together for the next seven years. An autograph manuscript (now at Oaxaca Cathedral), consisting mainly of the chanzonetas and villancicos that Fernandes composed for Puebla Cathedral between 1609 and 1620, is the largest surviving collection of 17th-century secular music in the New World. His Elegit eum Dominus is the earliest known Latin secular work by a New World composer; it celebrated the entry of the 13th Mexican viceroy into Puebla in 1612.


2 masses, 3, 5vv (inc.); Magnificat, 4vv; 8 Benedicamus Domino, 4vv; hymn: Guatemala City Cathedral; Oaxaca Cathedral, Mexico (autograph)

Over 250 festal chanzonetas and villancicos (Sp., Port., Tlaxcalan, Negro-dialect texts), org tientos, Lat. secular work, 5vv, 1612, Oaxaca Cathedral, Mexico (autograph); 1 guineo ed. in Stevenson (1968); 1 Lat., 11 vernacular works ed. R. Stevenson, Latin American Colonial Music Anthology (Washington DC, 1975)



A.F. Barata: Évora antiga (Évora, 1909), 47

R. Stevenson: ‘The Afro-American Musical Legacy to 1800’, MQ, liv (1968), 475–502, esp. 489

S.S. Tiemstra: The Choral Music of Latin America: a Guide to Compositions and Research (New York, 1992) [incl. discography]


Fernández, Agustín

(b Cochabamba, 10 March 1958). Bolivian composer. He received his first musical training in his native city, and was a child performer on the charango at the age of 11. After graduating (1978) from the Catholic University, La Paz, where he studied composition with Alberto Villalpando, he had private tuition with Takeshi Iida in Utsunomiya, Japan (1980–81); in Tokyo he studied composition with Ifukube (1981–3) and violin with Tekeshi Kobayashi (1980–83). He received an MMus from the University of Liverpool (1985) and a PhD in composition from City University (1990); his tutors were Douglas Young and Simon Emmerson. From 1977 to 1980 Fernádez taught the violin, the viola, harmony and composition at the National Conservatory in La Paz and was a violinist and then principal viola in the National SO. From 1990 to 1994 he was composer-in-residence at Queen’s University, Belfast, and chairman of the Sonorities Festival. Subsequently he was a lecturer in composition at Dartington College of Arts; and in 1995 he became lecturer in composition at the University of Newcastle.

Fernández’s compositions were first performed when he was 16; the following year his Rhapsody for orchestra won him a Bolivian national prize. Among his commissions are Teoponte, an electro-acoustic music-theatre piece written for the 1988 London International Opera Festival, and the chamber opera The Wheel, for the Royal Opera House’s Garden Venture, 1993. In 1990 he returned to the charango to compose Wounded Angel for charango and tape. His earliest works (now mostly withdrawn) are characterized by experimentation with material drawn from folk sources, while during the period prior to Belfast, the folk elements became more diluted as a result of the use of various methods of pitch and rhythmic organization. Since 1990 Fernández has abandoned conscious references to Bolivian sources altogether, concentrating on issues of large-scale continuity such as the exploration of discrete types of energies, for example in the image of flight in the chamber orchestral Peregrine (1996). His finely wrought music displays great clarity of design and texture, and an ingratiating variety of moods.


Stage: Crossroads Talk (music theatre, Agustín), 1984; Teoponte (music theatre, Augustín), 1988; Botanic Journey (music theatre, R. Archer), 1991; A Queen has her Portrait Painted (music theatre, E. Kemp), 1991; The Wheel (chbr op, F. Hayes-McCoy), 1992–3; Books and Night (music theatre, F. Hayes-McCoy, Fernández), 1995

Orch: Rhapsody, 1975, withdrawn; Danza de Loma, 1986; Fuego, 1987; Peregrine, chbr orch, 1996

Vocal: 3 canciones sobre poemas Rachel, SATB, 1976; Corpus Christi Mass, Bar, children’s chorus, mixed chorus, orch, 1977; Cantata de Navidad y Epifanía (Fernández), Bar, nar, children’s chorus, SSAA, 3 pf, 1978; El Afilador (Fernández), children’s chorus, SATB, 1981; The Song of the Morrow (Fernández, after R. Stevenson), S, T, pf, 1992; Red Songs (C. Lenihan, R. Pollard), S, pf, 1996; Approaching Melmoth (Fernández, after C. Maturin), Bar, SATB, chorus, orch

Chbr and solo inst: Meditación no.1, fl, ob, cl, sax, 3 perc, pf, hpd, 1985; Pájaro negro, fl, 2 cl + 2 b cl, pf, str trio, 1986; Botanic Spider, pf, str qt, 1991; The Insomniac’s Lullaby, gui, 1992; The Falcon’s Kiss, s sax, pf, 1994; Munirando, cl, pf, 1994; Munirando II, vn, pf, 1997–

El-ac: Wounded Angel, charango, tape, 1989; Silent Towers, tape, 1990


R. Becerra: Música y músicos bolivianos (Trinidad, 1988)

T.R. Stahlie: ‘Agustín Fernández, el compositor y su obra’, Música y músicos bolivianos (La Paz, 1995), 159–66


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