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Sociedad Espaola de Musicologa (SEDEM)

MUSICAL LEARNING IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY MEXICO: THE CASE OF FRANCISCO LPEZ


CAPILLAS
Author(s): Lester D. Brothers
Source: Revista de Musicologa, Vol. 16, No. 5, Del XV Congreso de la Sociedad Internacional de
Musicologa: Culturas Musicales Del Mediterrneo y sus Ramificaciones: Vol. 5 (1993), pp. 2814-
2834
Published by: Sociedad Espaola de Musicologa (SEDEM)
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20796895
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MUSICAL LEARNING
IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY MEXICO:
THE CASE OF FRANCISCOL?PEZ CAPILLAS

Lester D. BROTHERS

1992 marks anniversary of a cultural encounter


the five-hundredth
profoundly important for the subsequent history both of the New World
and of the Old. It reminds us that some of the issues raised by that
encounter are still with us today, among them, how in the New World the
accomplishments of native-born scholars, writers, artists, and musicians
should be regarded. In the century following conquest this issue was a
particular source of irritation for the criollos. As Spaniards born in the
New World, cre?les continued in the seventeenth century to be passed
over for upper offices, both secular and sacred, in favor of immigrant
peninsulares. While a contemporary chronicler lamented, ?those born
here are strangers in their own countries: newcomers are the heirs to its
honours,?1 recently D. A. Brading succinctly summarized the problem:
?The creole was an American Jacob, robbed of his birthright by a penin
sular Esa?.?2

While cre?les in middle-range


dominated positions in seventeenth
century Mexican society, for example, few ascended any higher. This is
also the case with learning, that is, erudition. What cre?les may be
credited with exceptional intellectual or artistic achievement in the
seventeenth century? At present it would seem, only two individuals

1
Antonio de la Calancha, Cronica moralizada del orden de San Agust?n en el Per?, ed.

Ignacio Prado Pastor, 6 vols., Lima, 1974, I, p. 164. Quoted in D. A. Brading, The First
America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State 1492-1867,
Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 296.
2
Calancha, p. 296.

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THE CASE OF FRANCISCO L?PEZ CAPILLAS 2815

active in the second half of the century have been generally


acknowledged: Carlos de Sig?enza y G?ngora (1645-1700), who has been
hailed as ?the towering figure in scientific thought,? and Sor Juana In?s
de la Cruz (1651-1695), who is generally regarded as ?Colonial Mexico's
greatest literary figure.?3 But, ifwe use a prominent survey of Mexican
history as any indication, we might conclude nothing comparable was
achieved in the arts.4 As far as music is concerned, this is no longer
acceptable in 1992.
In a very real sense we are still re-discovering aspects of America in
this year and encountering the same issue faced by seventeenth-century
cre?les: the problem of due recognition. In music, for example, we may
take the case of Francisco L?pez Capillas (c. 1608-1674), chapelmaster of
Mexico City Cathedral from 1654 to 1674.5 It is cathedral music towhich
we should turn for evidence of artistic achievement, and here L?pez

Capillas is unrivalled in quantity and quality. With more music extant than
any other colonial composer, L?pez dominates the nine Mexico City
Cathedral archive choirbooks, and he is the only New World maestro with
a manuscript devoted solely to his works sent to Spain?deposited at

present in the Madrid Biblioteca Nacional, a presentation copy of his


complete Masses and Magnificats replete with exquisite pen-stroke

3
Michael C. Meyer and William L. Sherman, The Course of Mexican History, New
York, Oxford University Press, 31987, p. 226, 228.
4
Meyer and Sherman. For music (p. 230-231) not a single composer is named and only
secular entertainment is discussed, while art (p. 231-236), in which ?the seventeenth century
saw the epitome of colonial painting? (p. 236), no native artists are mentioned, only the
Spaniards they emulated.
5
Lester
See D. Brothers, ?The Hexachord Mass: 1600-1720,? 2 vols., Ph.D.
dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 1973,1, p. 233-284; and ?A New-World
Hexachord Mass by Francisco L?pez Capillas,? Yearbook for Inter-American Musical
Research DC
(1973), 5-44; Robert Stevenson, ?Mexico City Cathedral Music, 1600-1675,?
Inter-American Musical Review DC/1 (Fall-Winter 1987), 75-114 (especially 97-114)?it
should be noted that this is the definitive treatment of the subject to date, exceedingly rich in

primary documentation, and is a fundamental source of background documentation for this

paper; and Lester D. Brothers, ?Francisco L?pez Capillas, First Great Native New-World

Composer: Reflections on the Discovery of His Will,? Inter-American Musical Review X/2

(Spring-Summer 1989), 101-118. It should bethat Stevenson,


noted ?L?pez Capillas,
Francisco,? Die in Geschichte
Musik und Gegenwart, XVI, ed. Ruth Blume, Kassel,
B?renreiter, 1975, cols. 1157-1158, corrects misstatements in Alice Ray Catalyne, ?L?pez
Capillas, Francisco,? The New Grove Dictionary ofMusic and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie,
London, Macmillan, 1980, XI, p. 227. The most detailed study of the style of the composer's
magnificats, limited by ignorance of literature since 1975, is Robert M. Johnson, The

Magnificats ofFrancisco L?pez Capillas (16157-1673),Mexico City Cathedral 'Maestrodi


Capilla', D.M.A. dissertation, Arizona State University, 1990.

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2816 LESTER D. BROTHERS

illumination.6 Stevenson, who discovered


Robert L?pez's last will and
testament,7 has recently asserted that it

...establishes him as thefirst cathedral chapelmaster bom in the viceroyal


capital. On the evidence of his surviging works, no finer composer
flourished anywhere in the New World before 1800. These twin
distinctions entitle him to the extended monograph on his life and works
thatwill one day be written to preface the opera omnia he deserves.8

At theoutsetof hiswill L?pez identifieshis parents,Bartolom? L?pez


and Mar?a la Trinidad, as residents of Mexico
de City. Armed with this
information, Robert Stevenson has suggested the possibility that this is the
same Bartolom? L?pez listed as a royal notary on May 7, 1593.9 Admit
tedly the name is common, but it is possible that Francisco's roots were
even deeper in Mexican history, for among some 22 entries under
?L?pez? and 14 under that appellation along with a third name listed in
Francisco de Icaza's dictionary of conquistadors and Spanish colonists at
mid-sixteenth century, two are possibly namesakes of the composer.10

6
Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, Ms. M. 2428.
7
Archivo General de Notar?as Federal, Francisco
del Distrito de Qui?ones, Libro 547Q
(olim 325) 1674, fols. 8-11 v. Announced in Robert Stevenson, ?Primeros Compositores
Nativos de Mexico,? Heterofon?a /3 (1977), 4; and ?Esteban Salas y Castro, Primer

CompositorNativo de Cuba,? Heterofon?aX/4 (1977), 4. The will is transcribedinRobert


Stevenson, ?Mexico City Cathedral Music,? 111-113, and a facsimile is printed in Brothers,
?Francisco L?pez Capillas,? 117-118.
8
Stevenson, ?Mexico City Cathedral Music,? 97-98.
9
Mexico City, Actas de Cabildo, XI (Libro Und?cimo), M?xico, Imprenta y Librer?a
de Aguilar e Hijos, 1897,108. Cited in Stevenson, ?Mexico City Cathedral Music,? 98.
10
Francisco A. de Icaza, Diccionario Autobiogr?fico de Conquistadores y Pobladores
de Nueva Espa?a, 2 vols. [Biblioteca de Facs?miles Mexicanos, 2], Madrid, 1923; rpt.,
Guadalajara, Edmundo Avi?a Lery, 1969, lists two possibilities:
?Ger?nymo L?pez, por los hijos de Francisco L?pez, dize

Ger?nymo L?pez que ?l es tutor y curador de las personas


de los hijos de Francisco

L?pez, difunto, el qual fu? de los primeros descubridores que vinyenn a descubrir esta Nueva
Spa?a, con Francisco Hern?ndez, e despu?s se hall? en la toma desta ciudad de M?xico y
desta Nueva y que los dichos son ?inco, tres hijos y dos hijas, y son de
conquista Spa?a,
legitimo matrimonio; y que las dichas hijas est?n casadas pobremente, y los hijos, no.? (I, p.
127, n?. 228)
?Fran?isco L?pez, dize
Que es vezino desta ciudad y natural de la de Sevilla, y hijo legitimode Fran?isco
rrodriguez Mor?n y de Teresa L?pez de la Cruz: y que ha veynte y tres a?os y m?s tienpo, que

pas? a esta Nueva Spa?a; y sirui? en las velas e rrondas desta ciudad, y despu?s en las

conquistas de Coatl?n y de rrio de Grijalva y Xicalango y Guiyatasta y Yucat?n e Higueras

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THE CASE OF FRANCISCO L?PEZ CAPILLAS 2817

The reassessment
engendered by the discovery that the ?most
profound and prolific composer of Masses inMexican history?n was a
creole, not the peninsular he was assumed to be, is well under way.12
Nevertheless, the ?profundity? of theMexican chapelmaster's Masses
deserves attention. It may be noted that all of L?pez's extant music is
Latin in text, liturgical in nature. We know he wrote vernacular
villancicos, but apparently none survive. All of the surviving music is
uniformly written in close renaissance counterpoint?stile antico?
betraying no characteristics of the baroque style he performed daily as a
singer, organist, and bassoonist at Puebla Cathedral for some seven
years (1641-1648) before takingup theprime post inhis nativeMexico
City. Not onlythat, he utilized obsolescent mensural practices and
particularly contrapuntal challenges and conundrums of a kind not
practiced since the age of Josquin des Prez at the end of the fifteenth
century. Here we confront music of undoubted learning?impressive
erudition?the nature of which was remarkable enough for a peninsular,
but which becomes astounding for a creole in seventeenth-century
Mexico. Sinceit provides a unique glimpse into musical learning at that
time, it is useful to explore first the sources of Lopez's erudition, then
the theoretical and finally the musical nature of that knowledge. Robert
Stevenson has wondered in print, ?Whence came his erudition?
Whatever he knew, he learned inMexico?for itwas there that he was
both born and bred.?13 The question fascinates because it challenges the
Euro-centric presumption that far-away Mexico could hardly foster
learning of this nature.
Creoles were usually well-educated in schools administered by
Jesuits, who catered particularly to the elite. As a native of Mexico City,
L?pez Capillas also very likely studied music privately, perhaps with the
Cathedral chapelmaster Antonio Rodriguez Mata (at the Cathedral from

con sus armas y cavallo; y nombra los capitanes; y en remunera?ion dello, en el rrepartimyen
to de Tuvasco le fueron encomendados ciertos pueblos, contenydos en la s?dula cuyo traslado
est? aqu?; y por se benir a casar, hizo dexaci?n dellos a Su Majestad; e ans? se cas? quinze
a?os ha, y tiene siete hijos leg?timos, los tres varones, y quatro hijas, y de hedad para casar, lo

qual no ha hecho por no tener posibilidad para ello1 y despu?s ac?, siempre ha tenydo sucasa
poblada con su famylia, armas y cavallos; y pedes?e necesidad.? ( , 141, p. n.? 849)
11
Robert Stevenson, ?L?pez Capillas, Francisco,? in New Catholic Encyclopedia, New
York, McGraw-Hill, 1967, VIII, p. 986.
12
See Brothers, ?Francisco L?pez Capillas.?
13
Robert Stevenson, ?The Music of Colonial Spanish America,? chapter 19 of Part
Four: Intellectual and Cultural Life, The Cambridge History of Latin America, 8 vols, to date,
ed. Leslie Bethell,Cambridge,CambridgeUniversityPress, 1984-1991, (1984), p. 782.

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2818 LESTER D. BROTHERS

1614,maestro de capilla by 1629 untilhis death in 1643).14Nevertheless,


until 1641, when he appears at Puebla, we have no record of L?pez
Capillas. Could he have been a choirboy at Mexico City? This was a
common way of learning music. The only list of personnel from this
period (1623) does not include him.15 That the church was a magnate for
music, though, is attested by the English visitor, Thomas Gage, who in
1625 claimed music to be ?so exquisite in thatCity, that I dare be bold to
say, that the people are drawn to their churches more for the delight of
theirmusick, than for any delight in the service of God. ?16
By the time L?pez entered Puebla Cathedral service in 1641, he had
acquired a bachelor's degree. I have suggested elsewhere that the
?Francisco L?pez? listed as a graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in
theologyfrom theUniversityofMexico on August 20, 1626, could well
be the eventual Cathedral chapelmaster. As a typical eighteen year-old
Bachiller, L?pez would have been born in 1608.17By 1647 he gained the
higher degree of Licenciado. What was the quality of such formal
education? It can be demonstrated that in the early seventeenth century,

The Jesuits were fast providing the Creoles with the reading, writing,
and Latin they had lacked, raising the level of theirhope and encoura
ging them to regard themselves as the intellectual, physical, and moral
equals of the peninsulars. The improvement was reflected at the
University inMexico City, which attained academic standards in this
period which impressed a number of European Spanish scholars.
V?squez de Espinosa, writing in the second decade of the century,
asserted that the accomplishments of the university students were of a

14
On Rodr?guez Mata see Stevenson, ?Mexico City Cathedral Music,? 80-82.
15
An itemized list sent on December 1, 1623, at the request of theGuatemala Cathedral.
At that time two of Rodriguez Mata's successors as chapelmaster were present: m?sico Luis
Coronado (chapelmaster 1643-1648), and second organist Fabi?n Ximeno (chapelmaster
1648-1654). If L?pez was born c. 1608, he would possibly?at age 13?have undergone
pubescent change of voice and been removed as a choirboy. If this were so, the third
successor would also have been a member of the Cathedral establishment 1654
(chapelmaster
1674). EitherXimeno or thefirstorganist,JuanXim?nez, could have taughtL?pez. In 1632
Rodriguez Mata cited Coronado as organist among the best soloists. He, too, might have

taught L?pez. See Stevenson, ?Mexico City Cathedral Music,? 80.


16
Thomas Gage's Travels in the New World, ed. by J. E. S. Thompson, Norman,
Oklahoma Press, 1958, p. 72. Cited in Stevenson, ?Mexico City Cathedral Music,? 81.
17Crist?balBernardode la Plaza
y Ja?n,Cr?nica de /aReal yPontificiaUniversidadde
M?xico, M?xico, 1931, I, p. 297 (chapter 33, Book ). All other entries under ?Francisco
L?pez? in the chronicle specify a third name. The Mexico City chapelmaster only added the
appellation?yCapilla? or ?Capillas? afterhe obtained theCathedralpost entitlinghim to the
designation. First pointed out in Brothers, ?Francisco L?pez Capillas,? 115.

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THE CASE OF FRANCISCO L?PEZ CAPILLAS 2819

high order and cited this as proof that theMexican climate was not in
fact unconducive to intellectual development.18

Besides his will, Francisco L?pez left another document that is


particularly relevant in assessing the Mexican musician's learning. No
other document gives such insight into the theoretical and musical
knowledge of a New World composer. It is a brief ?Declaraci?n de la
Missa? prefacing his Missa Super Scalarti Aretinam opening Mexico City
Cathedral Choirbook VII (see Appendix).19 It was written to clarify
notational matters unfamiliar to his Mexico City Cathedral singers
because the entire Mass is written throughout in obsolescent tempus
perfectum (triple meter). After an introduction explaining the nature of
this treatise, six individually numbered paragraphs take up each mensural
difficulty. Paragraph I concerns the problem of imperfection of the initial
longa in the tenor of Kyrie I, II discusses imperfection of a maxima by
two semibreves in the Alto part of the Christe, treats similar problems
withAlto ofKyrie , IV takesup thenotationof flaggedminims in the
Gloria tenor, V explains coloration in the Tiple of the ?Et incarnatus?
section of the Credo, and finally VI explicates the four-in-one canon
comprising theHosanna.20
Apparently Lopez's very competence was questioned by his chapel.
?Some people criticized thiswork,? he wrote, ?and to satisfy them, I shall
put here the authorities of great masters from whom I learned what has
been produced.? Two theorists are martialled to bolster his claims. The
more frequently cited (four references) is a rather shadowy figure in
Spanish theory, whom L?pez refers to as ?Maestro Pedro de Guevara
Loyola, Maestro desta santa Iglesia.? Pedro de Guevara published a
treatise on plainchant in Seville in 1582,21 in the preface of which he refers

18
J. I. Israel, Race,
Class, and Politics in Colonial Mexico 1610-1670, London, Oxford
University Press, 1975, p. 89-90. See also Descripci?n de la Nueva Espa?a en el siglo xviipor
el padre Fray Antonio V?squez de Espinosa y otros documentos del siglo xvii, ed. Mariano
Cuevas, Mexico, 1944, p. 127.
19
Reproduced in Brothers, ?A New-World Hexachord Mass,? 39-40, and Stevenson,
?Mexico City Cathedral Music,? 113-114.
20
For detailed discussion of each notational issue, see Brothers, ?A New-World
Hexachord Mass,? 18-20, and examples 1-7.
21
Pedro de Guevara Loyola, Arte para componer canto llano, y para corregir y
emendar la cantur?a que esta compuesta fuera de arte, quitando todas las opiniones y
dificultades que hasta agora ? avido, por falta de los que le compusieron, Seville, Andrea
Pescioni, 1582. Fran?ois Lesure, ed., ?crits imprim?s concernant la musique, I [R?pertoire
International des Sources Musicales, VII], Duisburg, G. Herde Verlag, 1971, p. 385, lists
copies at theBrussels Biblioth?queRoyale de Belgique and theParis Biblioth?queNationale.
Stevenson reports the Brussels copy cannot be found.

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2820 LESTER D. BROTHERS

to a larger work of his, apparently no longer extant, entitled De la Verdad,


comprised of six books discussing plainsong, polyphony, proportions,
counterpoint, and composition. His Arte para componer canto llano
advances, contrary to then prevalent opinion in Spain, the notion that

plainchant should be purged of its ?errors? (apparently a response to the


1570 missal and breviary of Pope Pius V being adopted throughout
Spain).22
Particularly puzzling is Lopez's reference inMexico City to Guevara
as ?Maestro of this holy Church. ? Recently it has been suggested that he
did indeed emigrate toMexico City,23 and it is therefore possible that he
was a maestro of some sort at Mexico City Cathedral and perhaps
therefore one of L?pez's teachers. A previously unexplored possibility is
that he was actually born inMexico and his ??migration? was simply a
return. This would account for the puzzling obscurity that accompanies
him in Spain.24
Toward the end of the sixteenth century Guevara would have found
Mexico a fertile place for exercising his knowledge of plainchant, since
some 14 books of plainchant were published (of a total of 220).25 After the
initial full reference to the theorist, L?pez subsequently cites him as
?Pedro de Loyola? and consistently refers to a ?compendio de musica,?
specifically citing chapters 15, 17, and 21. Presumably this would be his
De la Verdad, but perhaps this could also be a New-World compendium
no extant.26
longer

22
Almonte ?Guevara,
Howell, Pedro de Loyola,? The New Grove Dictionary ofMusic
and Musicians, 20 vols.,
ed. Stanley Sadie, London, Macmillan, 1980, VII, p. 792. Itmay be
noted that further interest in Guevara's Arte derives from that fact that 1) its publication in the
latter part of the sixteenth century indicates a continuing interest in composing original plain
chant in the Spanish orbit, and 2) the divergent plainchant traditions in Seville, Toledo,
Burgos, Granada, and Le?n deplored by Guevara contrasts sharply with the uniformity of
New-World Cathedrals, subject only to Seville.
23
Stevenson, ?Mexico City Cathedral Music,? 98.
24
Francisco A. de Icaza lists two possible relatives as Spanish settlers at mid-sixteenth

century, a Juan Guevara who hailed from Toledo (I, p. 127, n.? 816), and a Pedro de Guevara,
a native ofMadrid who enjoyed some distinction (II, p. 856, n.? 856):
?Don Pedrode Guevara,

Ques hijo de Don Ladr?n de Guevara, vezino de Madrid, e que vino a tierra por mandado
de los se?ores del Consejo de Indias, casado, diez a?os ha; e que tiene quatro hijos, e a servido
en la alteraz?i?n de la Nueva Galizia, y en lo dem?s que se ? ofres?iado; suplica se le haga
merced en el rrepartimyento.?
25
Stevenson, ?The Music of Colonial Spanish America,? p. 773.
26
It should be noted that Howell is unaware of any New-World connection with the
theorist, who previously was included among reference works only in Higinio Angl?s and

Joaqu?n Pena, Diccionario de laM?sica Labor, Barcelona, Editorial Labor, 1954,1, p. 1171.

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THE CASE OF FRANCISCO L?PEZ CAPILLAS 2821

By contrast, the second of Lopez's theoretical sources (two citations)


was a luminary of the period, especially in the Spanish orbit: Pietro
Cerone (1556-1625). A native of Bergamo, Cerone devoted himself to the
music of Spain, having served in thechapel Philip and Philip from
1592 untilhis returnto Italy in 1603.From 1610 untilhis death in 1625 he
was member of the Spanish royal chapel at Naples. There he published in
1613 his most famous treatise, the 1160-page behemoth, El melopeo y
maestro: tractado de m?sica the?rica y pr?ctica.21 Long lampooned as a
?musical monster,? the work has received more sympathetic appreciation
of late and may properly be recognized as an important and valuable
source for understanding sixteenth-century musical practices.28 Moreover,
the work was enormously influential in the Spanish world?after all, it
was written in Spanish, partly to gain the favor of Philip III and the
Spanish viceroy in Naples, his patron.29 Perhaps it is to be expected that
the treatise was part of the musical library even in far-away Mexico, but
so few copies are extant, Lopez's reference is valuable affirmation. In fact,
the earliest surviving treatise brought to the New World during the
colonial era is a copy of Cerone's musical monument, once owned by the
greatest native literary figure, Sor Juana In?s de la Cruz (bearing no date,
but in her possession before 1695).30 If, in fact, we could find themusical
treatise she was reported to have written, itwould be the earliest by a
native-born American.31

27 en que
Pedro El melopeo
Cerone, y maestro: tractado de m?sica the?rica y pr?tica;
se pone por lo que uno para hazerse perfecto m?sico
extenso; ha menester saber, Naples,
Gio. Battista Gargano and Lucretio Nucci, 1613; facsimile reproduction in two volumes
[Bibliotheca Musica Bononiensis Sezione , .25], Bologna, Forni, 1969.
28
See Ruth Hannas, ?Cerone, Philosopher and Teacher,? The Musical Quarterly XXI
(1935), 408-422; and ?Cerone's Approach to the Teaching of Counterpoint,? Papers Read by
Members of the American Musicological Society at the Annual Meeting Held in Pittsburgh,
Pa., Dec. 29 and 30, 1937, 75-80; Robert*Stevenson, review of Pedro Cerone, El melopeo
tractado de musica theor?ca y practica, facsimile reproduction in two volumes of El melopeo

y maestro (Bologna: Forni, 1969), Journal of the American Musicological Society XXIV
(1971), 477-485; and Barton Hudson, ?Cerone, Pietro,? The New Grove Dictionary ofMusic
and Musicians, 20 vols., ed. Stanley Sadie, London, Macmillan, 1980, IV, p. 79-80.
29
According to Hudson, p. 79. Cerone indicates he personally knew Pedro de Loyola
Guevara on page 281, noted by Stevenson, review of El melopeo, 481.
30
See Robert Stevenson, Renaissance and Baroque Musical Sources in the Americas,

Washington, D.C., General Secretariat, Organization of the American States, 1970, p. 135;
and review of El melopeo, 483. Facsimile of this passage published in Ermilo Abreu G?mez,
Sor Juana In?s de la Cruz: Bibliograf?a y Biblioteca, M?xico, Monograf?as Bibliogr?ficas
Mexicanas n? 29, 1934, p. 447-448.
31
Pointed out by Stevenson, review of El melopeo, 483. See Poes?as Completas, ed. E.
Abreu G?mez, M?xico, Ediciones Botas, 1948, p. 178-184: ?Que escribe a la Excelent?sima
se?ora Condesa de Paredes, Excus?ndose de enviar un libro de m?sica.?

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2822 LESTER D. BROTHERS

If we have no copy of the treatise L?pez most frequently cited in his


Declaraci?n, we may be surer of the composer's reliance on Cerone, since
in almost all cases he cites chapter and verse to support his points:
specifically, Book 18, Chapter 9 on aspects of triple mensuration, and
Book 20, number 4, part of an entire book devoted to Palestrina's five
voice L'Homme arm? Mass. But more significantly, it is very likely that
here L?pez found inspiration for the contrapuntal wizardry evident in his
Masses. Oddly enough, Cerone scorned learned counterpoint for its own
sake, discussing it as a necessary preliminary to composition itself,
constantly reminding his readers that contrapuntal rules were not ?legal,?
but arbitrary. ?Pity the poor contrapuntist,? he chided, ?for he is only a
tanner of leather while the composer is a maker of shoes.?32 Nevertheless,
he concludes his treatise with a book (number 22) devoted to musical
puzzles learned kind, an obvious
and teasers of the most source for the
Mexican composer's knowledge. Just as the Spanish language chosen by
Cerone for his treatise was probably calculated for personal advancement,
so, it has recently been suggested, was the conclusion of his treatise with
85 pages of learned devices of a distinctively retrogressive, in fact,
Flemish, nature. Included at page in fact, is a five-in-one canon by
758,
Giovanni de Macque (c. 1552-1614). Before printing his tome, Cerone
solicited a laudatory certificate from Macque, maestro of the Royal
Chapel inNaples, who was also the official censor of the publication.

With someone likeMacque, who obviously enjoyed such displays


of learning as fattenBook ,appointed to be his censor, Cerone can
hardly be blamed for flatteringMacque's taste. Chosen ?from the vast
array of preeminent musicians in Naples to look over and pass
judgment on the present treatise? Macque was a composer whose
?contrapuntal resourcefulness? reached even into his most minor
keyboard works.33

Regardless of the motivation for Cerone's chapter 22, what is


important here is the fact that it influenced L?pez in far-away Mexico to
an extent perhaps unmatched by any other of Cerone's devotees. No more
convincing evidence of the scrutiny with which L?pez studied Cerone
may be found than in the music he quotes so specifically in his
Declaraci?n to support his practice in his Missa Super Scalam Aretinam.
His quotation of passages from works by Lupus Hellinck (c. 1496-1541)

32
Hudson, p. 79. Quote from Hannas, ?Cerone's Approach to the Teaching of

Counterpoint,? 76.
33
Stevenson, review of El melopeo, 478-479 (quote on 479).

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THE CASE OF FRANCISCO L?PEZ CAPILLAS 2823

and Jean Richafort (c. 1480-c. 1547) suggests familiarity with Flemish
works not at all to be found early New World archives.34
Furthermore, the only work by a Spanish-born composer drawn upon
by L?pez for a parody Mass was a canci?n by Juan de Riscos, for forty
five years (1598-1643) chapelmaster at Ja?n Cathedral, who never
traveled to theNew World. Queries Stevenson:

Did L?pez study with Riscos during a visit to Ja?n, and did he pay
tribute to his chief teacher by placing theRe Sol parody at the head of
his collected masses?just as Francisco Guerrero in 1566 and Alonso
Lobo in 1602 had honored their chief teachers with a parody to open
theircollected masses?35

These two threads of evidence?familiarity with music no longer


extant inMexico, and a a
parody tribute to Ja?n chapelmaster?have been
adduced to suggest as-yet unprovable peninsular study for theMexican
musician, but we may now dispel at least the first. On page 974 of
Cerone's El melopeo y maestro we encounter every specific compositional
reference in sections I and II of Lopez's Declaraci?n (Example 1).
Moreover, the specific references to Palestrina's Missa L'Homme arm?
found in sections III, IV, and V are taken from Cerone's pages 1030 and
1031. The Mexican obviously did not have to have access to these works
to cite chapter and verse; he needed only rely on Cerone. That he did is
verified by the fact that L?pez is no more specific in his citations than

34
Robert Stevenson, ?Cap?tulo I: La m?sica en el M?xico de los siglos xvi a xvm,? p.
7-74, in Jos? Antonio Guzm?n-Bravo and Robert Stevenson, La m?sica de M?xico I. Historia
2. Periodo virreinal (1530 a 1810), ed. Julio Estrada, Mexico, Universidad Nacional
Aut?noma de M?xico, 1986, p. 64-65.
?Los compositores cuyas obras cita L?pez en su 'Declaraci?n de la misa' constituyen un
testimonio m?s del exquisito repertorio que se interpretaba en la catedral antes de 1650: misas
L'Homme arm? de Morales y Palestrina; Missa super Peccata mea, a 4, de Lupus Hellinck
(Venecia, 1544), y el motete Beati omnes de Jean Richafort; Hic est pa?is, de Pierre
Manchicourt, y Gaude Barbara, a 5, de Palestrina (1572), s?lo para citar unas cuantas. Si las
referencias de L?pez nos dan una idea de la gran calidad del repertorio que se conoc?a en la
ciudad de M?xico en los comienzos del siglo xvn, podemos inferir que eran perfectamente
conocidas obras maestras que ahora se estudian en los seminarios de musicolog?a en las

principales universidades europeas.?


35
Stevenson, ?Mexico City Cathedral Music,? 98. Part of this argument may be
countered by the observation that although Missa Re Sol inaugurates Mexico City Cathedral
Choirbook Vili, a tome almost exclusively devoted to L?pez compositions, in the true summa
or collected works sent to Spain, Madrid Piblioteca National Ms. M. 2428, where presumably
he could have more significantly honored his teacher, the Mass is placed in penultimate

position (of eightworks). Here pride of place is given his hexachordMass (which opens
Mexico CityCathedralChoirbookVII).

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2824 LESTER D. BROTHERS

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THE CASE OF FRANCISCO L?PEZ CAPILLAS 2825

Cerone. Furthermore, the absence of any mention in his short treatise of


an obvious prop to defend his authority?peninsular training with a
renowned maestro?further implies his inability tomake that claim.
If this understanding attenuates some of the mystique previously
shrouding L?pez's musical citations as an
indication of his eminent
learning, itself that awe cannot be dispelled.
it is in the music Four
passages from his Masses will suffice to illustrate.
First, in theMass that prompted his Declaraci?n in the first place,
being uniquely written throughout in obsolete triplemensuration, the final
sections especially evince old-fashioned contrapuntal dexterity. The
?Osanna? concluding his Sanctus takes up the challenge of presenting a
movement as purely derived from the scalar subject (the hexachord) as
possible. In fact, to indicate that absolute purity, he not?tes the section as a
single tenorvoice fromwhich theothersare derived (Example 2); only the
bass voice be written out because
need it provides a fundament for the
four-in-one canon, a favorite Flemish device from the age of Josquin des
Prez. Learned as this device is, the scalar nature of the subject makes this
kind of notational complexity contrapuntally rather simple. He chose to
conclude his Mass with a much more impressive, but contrapuntally less
rigid Agnus in which the scale prevails in all voices to a degree un
matched by any other composer in nearly three centuries of the history of
the hexachord Mass.
But without doubt it is the culminating movements of Missa Quam
pulchri sunt gressus tui, a parody based on Palestrina's four-voice motet of
the same title, that establish L?pez as the contrapuntal wizard among
colonial New-World composers, teasing us with the most learned of
contrapuntal conundrums. Here he turned to the Flemish puzzle canon?
themost esoteric device even in the arsenal of composers of the fifteenth
century. After Agnus I for the usual four parts, he augmented the forces
by another voice for a perpetual canon, two of the voices entirely derived
from the others
(Example 3).36 The superius bears the inscription,
?Lignum etiam vitae in medio Paradisi. Quelite & invenientis? (?To be
sure, the Tree of Life [is] in the middle of Paradise. Seek and you will
find?), the first altus part reads ?In me manet, & ego in ilio? (?He dwells
inme, and I in Hirn?), and the second alto, ?Pulsate & aperietur vobis?

36 It is
odd, but consistentinboth theMadrid andMexico Citymanuscripts,thatAgnus
II follows Agnus .This in Stevenson's of the final movement
apparently resulted indication
as ?Agnus II? in his edition and in suL^equeiu references (it is similarly indicated in the score
reproduced in Brothers, ?Francisco L?pez Capillas,? 111-113). Could it be that the composer,

realizing the difficulties of performing the canon, placed it in such a way that its performance
would notbe obligatory;thatis,plainchantcould be optionallysubstituted
forAgnus ?

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2826 LESTER D. BROTHERS

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THE CASE OF FRANCISCO L?PEZ CAPILLAS 2827

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2828 LESTER D. BROTHERS

(?Knock and itwill be opened for you?). The real puzzle involves the
tenor voice, for which the indication, ?Qui invenerit inveniet vitam? (?He
who finds [it] will find life?), is given without musical notation. Similarly
the Bassis reads ?Positus inmedio quo me vertam nescio? (?Placed in the
middle, I do not know where I should turn?).
The resolution is not so obvious; one can arrive at the lower two
voices only by trial and error. Since the second eleven bars of Altus I
combine contrapuntally with the first eleven bars, the entire canon
revolves perpetually around a mere eleven bars of counterpoint. Thus the
Tenor commences from the middle of Alto I, at ?miserere nobis,? and
then, arriving at the end of the notes, returns to the beginning, producing a
canon at the unison with Alto I. The Bassis reads the notes of Alto I,
beginning also at the ?miserere
nobis,? but at a fourth below and
returning only ?in medio,? that is back to themid-point at which it started,
at ?miserere.? (For the resultant eleven-bar scheme, see Example 4.) The
?Tree of Life,? that which gives structural sustenance to this music, is
located in the mid-point of an inner voice. The whole structure is
perpetual, and a conclusion is nowhere indicated. If themovement is to be
performed, such an ending must be invented.37
Finally, as if this were not impressive enough, L?pez augmented the
voices yet again to six for Agnus III and manifoldly increased the
contrapuntal challenge by fashioning a triple crab canon. Three parts are
notated, each with a puzzle inscription indicating that the second,
unnotated voice is to sing the notes of the first in reverse (Example 5).
Superius I reads: ?Ego sum Alpha & Omega? (?I am the Alpha and the
Omega?), Altus , ?Incipiat in novissimo loco? (?It should begin in the
newest?most recent?place?) and Tenor I, ?Ad locum unde exeunt
revertuntur? (?They return to the place from which they go out [finish]?).
As a result, the second half of the movement is a retrograde of the first
half with voice exchange. The learning here is impressive enough, but the
artistic result, given the nearly unbelievable restrictions, validates L?pez as
the paramount contrapuntist among New-World composers.
The case
of Francisco L?pez Capillas is exceedingly valuable for
assessing musical learning in seventeenth-century Mexico. It provides
unique musical and theoretical documentation of the musical climate
during this epoch. But does this uniqueness, in fact, condemn the case

37
Example 4 suggests with fermatas the only possible point of cadential repose within
the scheme. Unless this niodally possible but less frequent cadence on A is taken for the con
clusion, a Mixolydian ending more probably on G must be fashioned. No other section in the
Mass ends on A.

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THECASEOF FRANCISCO
L?PEZ CAPILLAS 2829

? fi
?ii?i'ir m

0
rn

lf '
V1' M '|
f ) fH f l|rT

Example 4. Schematic resolution ofExample 3 as perpetual canon.

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2830 LESTER D. BROTHERS

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THE CASE OF FRANCISCO L?PEZ CAPILLAS 2831

made here as the veritable exception that in fact proves the opposite rule?
L?pez himself was well aware of the advice Cerone gave his readers:

...it is not possible to become an accomplished musician through the


reading of many books. But it is necessary, for the better comprehension
of thatwhich has been read, to give oneself over at times to intercourse
with those who have practice in theArt itself...38

What has been presented here supports the presumption that L?pez
was educated at home. The numerous publications of Robert Stevenson
amply demonstrate that themusical environment inMexico City was vital
enough to stimulate Lopez's artistic as well as intellectual talent in
?intercourse with those who have practice in the Art itself. ? Certainly the
music itself attests that he was no pedant, and the respect with which it
was accorded inMexico City Cathedral even a century after composition
suggests that itwas by no means received as a mere curiosity. But is it fair
to conclude from this that the significance of Lopez's achievement
resonates beyond the musical world? Can it be taken as in fact
symptomatic of the intellectual milieu of seventeenth-century Mexico
City?
Fortunately, the intellectual vitality ofMexico City at this time can be
documented. On the eve of Lopez's birth, native-born Ruiz de ?larcon (c.
1581-1639) returned home after a Peninsular sojourn, and the next year
earned a licentiate in law from the University
ofMexico. Four years later
he emigrated toMadrid, where he died
the principal dramatist of early
seventeenth-century Spain after Lope de Vega and Tirso de Molina.39 In
attempting to comprehend the setting that produced so exceptional a
dramatist, Alarc?n's first Spanish biographer exclaimed:

Never before nor since did thereflourish in colonial Mexico such a


plenitude of extremely learned scholars in all branches of human
knowledge?some born in the New World, others in Europe. Mexico
City was then the trueNew World Athens. ...Withwhat profound minds
?larcon conversed when he returned toMexico in 1608?40

If the opinion of a nineteenth-century biographer may be impugned


for partiality, we may corroborate itwith the contemporary testimony of

38
Quoted in Hannas, ?Cerone, Philosopher and Teacher,? 422.
39
This is the assessment in theEncyclopedia Britannica (1968), XIX, p. 721.
40
Luis Fern?ndez-Guerra y Orbe, D. Juan Ruiz de Alarc?n y Mendoza, Madrid, M.
Rivadeneyra, 1871, p. 198. Quoted in Stevenson, ?Mexico City Cathedral Music,? 77.

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2832 LESTER D. BROTHERS

novelist Mateo Alem?n (1546-c. 1615), who traveled on the same ship
with ?larcon toVeracruz, and who had no reason to be other than honest:

Without exaggerating and with all sincerity, I can publish to the


world at large thatMexico possesses intellects as subtle and penetrating
as are to be found anyplace else that the sun shines.41

Notonly was ?larcon literarily gifted, he was also musically astute,


quite similarly to Sor Juana In?s in the second half of the century. This is
evident in the numerous musical allusions of an unusually knowledgeable
nature with which Alarc?n's oeuvre is studded.42 The resonance of music
inMexico City's rich cultural ambience finds no more eloquent testimony,
for the various facets interpenetrated each other, nourishing each other to a
remarkable degree. The achievement of theMexican musician may, in
fact, be taken as symptomatic of the intellectual milieu of seventeenth
century Mexico City. It is upon this basis, then, that we may rest the case
of Francisco L?pez Capillas, not only the most learned but also the
greatest of native New World composers.

41
Francisco Rodr?guez Mar?n, Documentos referentes a Mateo Alem?n y a sus deudos
m?s cercanos (1546-1607), Madrid, de Archivos, 1933, p. 54. Quoted inMariano
Tipograf?a
Cuevas, Historia de la Iglesia en M?xico, Mexico City, Editorial Patria,51946, DI, p. 469; and
in Stevenson, ?Mexico City Cathedral Music,? 77.
42
Treated in some detail in Stevenson, ?Mexico City Cathedral Music,? 76-77.

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the case of francisco l?pez capillas 2833

Appendix

DECLARACION DE LA MISSA
[Mexico City Cathedral Choirbook VII]

El motivo que e tenido para declarar algunas dificultades acerca de las


figuras q contiene laMissa por ser del tiempo Temario a sido el auer causado
nouedad a algunos de mis Cantores, y auer contienda sobre dichas figuras: y
aunque la autoridad de Maestro de Capilla desta santa Iglesia bastaua, pues claro
se infiere, que no auia de sacar ninguna obra a luz para que me la enmendaran
los que no son maestros sino calores: porq no todos los que componen son
leg?timamente, ni propriamente son Maestros perfectos, q el vso de componer
no a todos haze Maestros; pues ay muchos que componen por cost ubre y no por
ciencia, y para probar esta verdad lean la Bula del Papa lu?n 22 porque Maestro
en qualquier Arte a de ser cient?fico, y conocer las causas por sus causas, y el
que no las supiere no las juzgue temerariamente, como algunos juzgaron desta
obra y para satisfazer los pondre aqu? las autoridadtes de grandes Maestros en
quien yo aprendi lo obrado. &c.

En el primero Kyrie empie?a el Tenor con un longo, el qual es imperfecto;


porque la figura que se le sigue es sumenor, vale cinco semibreves, por que en el
su valor, como lo
tiempo temario pierde la maxima y la longa la sexta parte de
dize el Maestro Pedro de Gueuara Loyola Maestro desta santa Iglesia en su
en el Cap. 15. Pedro Manchicourt en el motete Hic est
compendio de musica
en el Tiple. Prenestina, en la 2.p. del motete de S. Barbara 2o lib. a 5.
pa?is,
no bastaren
Lupo en la Ossana de laMissa peccata mea: y si estas autoridades
con la de Ricafort en la 2.a p. del motete Beati omnes, en el Tenor v?lganse de la
arimetica, pues la sexta parte de 6. es una. luego el longo imperfecto valdr? cinco
semibreves, y el que lo contradixere pruebe lo.

II

En el Christe el Alto Ueua el canto llano con una maxima imperfecta, y dos
semibrebes con un punto que muestran que van con la maxima, y con ellos
cumple el numero ternario, vale diez compases, vean al Maestro Pedro de
Loyola en la sita arriba pues siendo dupla del longo, es evidente que pierde dos
semibrebes; prosigue con unos longos negros, valen a quatro c[o]mpases, por
que toda figura negra en dicho tiempo pierde la tercia parte de su valor, lean al
dicho Pedro de Loyola en el Cap. 17 de su compendio de musica, como lo hizo
elMaestro Morales en laMissa lomearme, Lupo en el agnus de laMissa peccata
mea, y todos los Maestros lo ense?an.

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2834 LESTER D. BROTHERS

En el tercero Kyrie, el segundo contra alto lleua el canto llano con unos
brebes negros, valen dos semibrebes, por la raz?n arriba dicha de la que pierden
las figuras negras: el tenor canta por tiempo imperfecto, y prolacion perfecta,
empie?a con pausa de longo que vale doze compases, y lleua el canto llano en
semibrebes, que vale cada uno tres compases, vean a Prenestina en la Missa
lomearme.

IV

En el Qui tollis de laGloria, el Tenor muda el tiempo, que es el imperfecto o


medio circulo vuelto con prolacion perfecta, el semibrebe vale tres compases, el
brebe seis, y las pausas tedran el mismo valor, la dificultad esta en el tu solus
Sanctus, donde desciende con el canto llano, co minimas las quales pasan dos al
compas respecto del tiempo vuelto por que aqui pierde laminima lamitad de su
valor, y al que le pareciere que hago arte nueuo lea al Maestro Cer?n en el libro
20, al numero 4, sobre la explicaci?n de laMissa de Prenestina Lomearme en la
Gloria.

En el Incamatus est, el Tiple tiene un negro, y un semibrebe negro, y


longo
dos seminimas, el longo vale quatro compases, el semibrebe uno, y las dos
semiminimas vale cada una a medio compas por respecto del longo, y con ellas
cumple el numero ternario como se puede ver en laMissa Lomerarme del dicho
autor en el Credo donde el Contralto canta las figuras dichas en la parte Deum de
Deo. y el Maestro Pedro de Loyola lo trae doctamente en su compendio en el
Cap. 21. de la terceramanera del semibrebe negro, y la longa.

VI

En el Osan[n]a todos cantan al numero ternario como lo muestran sus


figuras, no e querido hazer mas dificultades por no hazer incantable laMissa,
que con esta declaraci?n qualquiera con facilidad podra regirla, y al que le
pareciere ser supuestas dichas pruebas, lea al Maestro Pedro Cer?n en el libro
18. en el Cap. 9. donde hallara todo lo dicho, y otras muchas dificultades.

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