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Fernández (Hidalgo), Gutierre

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Fernández (Hidalgo), Gutierre

(b ?Talavera de la Reina, c1547; d La Plata [now Sucre], Bolivia, 11 June 1623). South American composer of Spanish birth. Around 1567 he was under the tutelage of Juan Navarro and involved in the musical activities of churches in Salamanca and Alcala de Henares. After Navarro’s dismissal from his post at Salamanca Cathedral in 1574, Fernández Hidalgo also left, becoming maestro de capilla of the collegiate church of S María in Talavera de la Reina, where he remained until his departure to America in late 1583. In May 1584 he became maestro de capilla at the cathedral in Santafe (now Bogotá). He also assumed the post of rector of the Tridentine seminary of S Luis, replacing (not without contention) the local maestro de capilla, Gonzalo García Zorro who, according to Fernández Hidalgo, was a passable bass ignorant of all but elementary counterpoint and the rudiments of polyphony. On his arrival Fernández Hidalgo was already an accomplished musician; he soon obtained from the Bishop of Santafe an order requiring the young seminarians to sing in the cathedral every day under his demanding direction. On 20 January 1586 the entire student body fled, causing a serious scandal which had repercussions in Spain. He was succeeded as maestro de capilla by his pupil Alonso Garzón de Tahuste.

Fernández Hidalgo accepted an appointment at Quito, which resembled the one at Santafe in that he was again expected to act both as maestro de capilla of the cathedral and as priest of the Amerindian parish of S Blas. Again he was succeeded as maestro de capilla by a pupil, Hernando de la Parra Cisernos. In 1591 Fernández Hidalgo was employed as maestro de capilla of Lima Cathedral and as music master of the Encarnación convent. The following year he became maestro de capilla of Cuzco Cathedral, with an annual salary of 500 pesos; he was to conduct the choir, give daily public lessons in plainsong, polyphony and counterpoint to all designated members of the cathedral staff and compose ‘the customary villancicos, motets and other festival music’. In 1593 the chapter suggested that senior cathedral musicians should supplement their salaries with parish work; this so irritated Fernández Hidalgo that on 12 July he offered to resign. The alarmed chapter thereupon voted to raise their contribution to his salary from 300 to 400 pesos.

He remained in Cuzco until 1597, when his name is first recorded in the accounts of La Plata Cathedral where, as maestro de capilla, he was paid 600 pesos a year; he was also the priest in charge of the church of S Lazaro in La Plata. He returned to Cuzco some time around October 1608, returning to La Plata in December 1612; he remained there until his death.

On 22 January 1607 Fernández Hidalgo signed an agreement with Diego de Torres, the Jesuit provincial of Paraguay returning to Europe, by the terms of which Torres agreed to oversee the printing of his collected compositions in Spain or France. Five volumes were proposed: masses, Magnificat settings, hymns en fabordón, music of the Office for Holy Week and motets. The churches in which Fernández Hidalgo served were to receive copies (two of each volume for the cathedrals of La Plata and Cuzco, and one of each for those of Santafe, Quito and the Encarnación convent at Lima), and a certain number were to go to the Jesuit Province of Paraguay. It is not known if the project, for which the composer would have paid 1500 pesos for 50 copies of each volume, was ever carried out, but his works survive only in manuscript form. In 1608 the Audiencia of Charcas recommended him to Philip III for a prebend, without success; he renewed his application in 1613 with the help of a merchant friend, Juan López de Arguincano.

Fernández Hidalgo’s music reflects the main trends of Spanish musical style of the second half of the 16th century. Certainly a follower of Morales and Navarro, his surviving works, for vespers, are closest in style to those of Torrentes. His music shares the serenity of Guerrero’s Liber vesperarum (1584) and, although not an obtrusively learned composer, Fernández Hidalgo occasionally employed canonic writing, as in his four-voice Magnificat quarti toni.


All in CO-B

Edition: Gutierre Fernández Hidalgo opera omnia, ed. E. Bermudez (Bogotá, forthcoming)

8 Mag settings (1 inc.), 4–6vv; 2 ed. R. Stevenson, Latin American Music Colonial Anthology (Washington DC, 1975), repr. in Inter-American Music Review, vii (1985–6), 1 ed. E. Bermudez, Antología de musica religiosa siglos XVI–XVIII (Bogotá, 1987)

5 vespers pss ‘De Na. Senora’, 4vv: Dixit Dominus, Laudate pueri, Laetatus sum, Nisi Dominus, Lauda Jerusalem; Laudate pueri ed. S. Claro, Antología de la musica colonial en America del sur (Santiago, 1974/R), Laetatus sum ed. R. Stevenson, Latin American Music Colonial Anthology (Washington DC, 1975), repr. in Inter-American Music Review, vii/1 (1985–6)

4 vespers pss in fabordon ‘De Apostoles’, 4vv: Dixit Dominus, Confitebor tibi, Beatus vir, Laudate pueri

Salve regina, 4vv

Salve reinga, 5vv

In manus tuas Domine, re, 4vv



R. Stevenson: The Music of Peru (Washington DC, 1960), 182ff 201–02

R. Stevenson: ‘Music in Quito’, Hispanic American Historical Review, xliii (1963), 247–66, esp. 255

R. Stevenson: ‘The First New World Composers: Fresh Data from the Peninsular Archives’, JAMS, xxiii (1970), 95–106, esp.99

R. Stevenson: ‘Atahuallpa's Realm: the Quest for Musical Identity in Equador’, Music in Performance and Society: Essays in Honor of Roland Jackson, ed. M. Cole and J. Koegel (Warren, MI, 1997), 428


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