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

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(It.: ‘mournful’, ‘plaintive’).

A mark of expression particularly characteristic of the galant style. Boccherini used the direction andante flebile (g214).

Flecha, Matheo (i)

(b Prades, ?1481; d Poblet, ?1553). Spanish composer. According to Fétis he studied music in Barcelona with Juan Castelló. In December 1522 he joined Lérida Cathedral as cantor and in the following year was appointed maestro de capilla, leaving that post before 31 October 1525. In 1533 his name appeared in the preparatory evidence for the synodial constitutions of the diocese of Sigüenza, and he was maestro de capilla there from perhaps 1537 to 1539. From May 1544 he held the equivalent post in the capilla of the Infantas María and Juana of Castile in the castle of Arévalo, an appointment he left in 1548, perhaps because of the marriage of María to Maximilian of Austria.

By 1557 – some years after his death – his work was still arousing enough interest for Pedro Pujol, a cleric of Valencia, to seek a licence to print it. 24 years later his nephew and namesake Matheo Flecha (ii), published in Prague the only known printed collection of his uncle’s works, Las ensaladas de Flecha (158113). These and his other compositions must have enjoyed great popularity in their day, to judge by the different sources and adaptations which have survived. Besides the Prague printing, works by Flecha are included in the Cancionero de Uppsala (155630), the Cancionero de Barcelona (E-Bc M454), the Cancionero dela casa de Medinaceli (E-Mmc 607), Le difficile des chansons (15449) and two manuscript collections of ensaladas dating from after 1581 (E-Bc M588/I–II). Valderrábano, Pisador and Fuenllana adapted several of his works for voice and vihuela, and a mass by Morales and two other anonymous masses of the Medinaceli Cancionero parody ensaladas by him.

In his ensaladas Flecha frequently uses the device of quotation, which was in effect the basis of this kind of composition. According to Romeu, they were written for Christmas over a period of about 10 years (1534/35–43). He interwove his own melodies and those of others in a continuous musical flow in which homophonic passages alternate with more imitative writing. The quotations – in Castilian, Catalan and Latin – barely stand out in the whole because of his very unusual style, between learned and popular, probably an echo of the musical taste of some aristocratic circles of Spanish society of the first half of the 16th century. One of the best is La viuda, an autobiographical ensalada whose text names a series of individuals with whom Flecha may have been connected: it contains eleven different quotations, at least four of which involve musical material. One of his villancicos, Si amores, is mentioned in Luys Milán’s El cortesano (Valencia, 1561), and was copied on one of the lost folios of the Cancionero Musical de Palacio (E-Mp II/1335). Que farem is one of the rare Renaissance villancicos with a text in Catalan. The Miserere attributed to Flecha in E-Bc M587 is stylistically more typical of the uncle’s style than of the nephew’s.


Editions: Las ensaladas, ed. H. Anglés, PBC, xvi (1955) [A]Cancionero de Uppsala, ed. R. Mitjana and L. Querol (Madrid, 1980) [M]

Ensaladas: El fuego, 4vv, A; El jubilate, 4vv, A; La bomba, 4vv, A; La caça, 4vv, inc.; La guerra, 4vv, A; La justa, 4vv, A; La negrina, 4vv, A; La viuda, 4vv, ed. M.C. Gómez (Barcelona, 1992); Las cañas, 5vv, inc.; Los chistes, 5vv, inc.; El cantate [lost]

Villancicos: Encúbrase el mal que siento, 3vv, ed. Ros-Fábregas; Mal haya quien a vos casó, 4vv, inc.; O triste de mí, 3vv, ed. Ros-Fábregas; Que farem del pobre Joan!, 4vv, M; Si amores me han de matar, 5vv, M; Si sentís lo que yo siento, 3vv, ed. Ros-Fábregas; Teresita hermana, M; Tiempo bueno, 4vv, ed. Ros-Fábregas

Latin sacred: Miserere, 4vv, ed. Gómez, 1986–7; Doleo super te [lost]


J. Romeu: ‘Mateo Flecha el Viejo, la corte literario-musical del duque de Calabria y el Cancionero llamado de Upsala’, AnM, xiii (1958), 25–101

M.C. Gómez: ‘Un Miserere de Flecha’, Recerca musicològica, vi–vii (1986–7), 29–39

M. Querol: ‘Las ensaladas de Mateo Flecha el Viejo’, AnM, xliii (1988), 67–79

E. Ros: The Manuscript Barcelona, Biblioteca de Catalunya M454 (diss., CUNY, 1992)

M.C. Gomez: ‘The Ensalada and the Origins of the Lyric Theater in Spain’, Comparative Drama, xxviii (1994), 367–93


Flecha, Matheo (ii)

(b Prades, nr Tarragona, c1530; d La Portella, nr Berga, 1604). Spanish composer, nephew of Matheo Flecha (i). In 1543 he entered the service of the Infantas María and Juana, the daughters of Charles V, as a chorister. After the marriage of María to Maximilian of Austria in 1548 he remained in the service of Juana, but left to become a Carmelite friar in 1552. In 1564 he was in Italy, and from there he went to the Austrian court where from 1568 he held the office of ‘Chaplain to the Empress and Musician to the Imperial Majesty’. In 1579 Rudolph II conferred on him the abbacy of Tihany in Hungary in recognition of his services. After various journeys to Spain, some of them on official business, he retired in mid-1601 to the Benedictine monastery of San Pedro de Portella, near Berga, of which he was abbot until his death.

Two copies survive of Il primo libro de madrigali (Venice, 1568; ed. M.C. Gómez, Madrid, 1985). There are 19 items in the collection; one is a Spanish villancico, and one was later transcribed for string quintet with the title ‘Harmonía a 5’ (A-Wgm 23573). His second vernacular publication (1581) corresponds to the famous compilation of Las ensaladas of his uncle and namesake, to which he added two ensaladas and a madrigal of his own (ed. in M.C. Gómez: F. Matheo Flecha: La feria y Las cañas, Madrid, 1987), an ensalada by Cárceres, and one by Chacón; the book survives incomplete. His last publication (1593) consisted of a book of poems linked by a ‘short account of the life and death of the Most Christian Queen of France, Doña Isabel of Austria’, some ‘Epitetos a la Virgen’ and nine sonnets on religious subjects. His Divinarum completarum psalmi, lectio brevis et Salve regina, cum aliquibus motetis (Prague, 1581) does not seem to have survived complete, and his mass (1576) is lost.

Flecha is one of the rare 16th-century Spanish composers who followed international trends in madrigal writing. His madrigals show a considerable mastery of contrapuntal technique in spite of a certain conservatism of style and a lack of dramatic tension; they were probably written in an Italian prison, to which he had been sentenced for debt, and the sounds he used are notable for their sobriety. His ensalada Las cañas is a four-part reworking of his uncle’s ensalada of the same name; in La feria, an expansion of the anonymous ballad En la ciudad de Toledo, he used the alternation of contrasting passages typical of this genre.


H. Anglés: ‘Mateo Flecha el Joven’, SM, iii (1962), 45–51

M.C. Gómez: ‘Un libro de poemas de fray Matheo Flecha (ca. 1530–1604)’, RdMc, vii (1985), 343–70

M.C. Gómez: ‘Precisiones en torno a la vida y obra de Matheo Flecha el joven’, RdMc, ix (1986), 41–56


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