Antonio de Cabezón [Cabeçón]


Spanish composer and organist. Blind from infancy, he was taught music first by local organists, then by the cathedral organist in Palencia. In 1526 he was appointed organist to Queen Isabella. After her death in 1539 he worked for her children, especially Prince Philip, who later became King Philip II and was from 1548 Cabezón's sole employer. He traveled widely in Europe (including England) with the king in the years 1548-56 but settled in Madrid when it became the home of the Spanish royal court, remaining there until his death. His numerous compositions for organ and stringed keyboard instruments include glosas (intabulations of polyphonic works by other composers, usually not Spanish, reconceived as keyboard pieces), diferencias (variation sets, in which he was a pioneer, most based on melodies from Spanish cancioneros and on dances), entirely original tientos, and various liturgical pieces such as hymns. Some works were included in Luis Venegas de Henestrosa's Libro de cifira nueva (1557); most were first printed by his son Hernando de Cabezón in Obras de nuisicapara tecla, arpa y vihuela de Antonio de Cabezón (1578). The latter book also includes a general presentation of the composer's teachings on keyboard playing; the discussion of fingering is particularly notable for the progressiveness of the ideas set forth. Only one vocal work, a piece for five voices, is known.

A Partial Antonio de Cabezón Discography |  IVL: The Iberian Masters