Enigmas solved

In 1977 came out the first number of the journal Poesía. Revista ilustrada de información poética, created and financed – o tempora, o mores… – by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and directed in an admirable way by Gonzalo Armero. Since the first issue we were hooked on its impeccable design and exalted feeling of discovery promised by every page of it. It was an essential part of our aesthetic education. In 1980 the ninth edition of the journal included an unforgettable essay by Luis Robledo Estaire. We read there for the first time about the “enigmatic canons” and learned with curiosity the name of Juan del Vado (1626-1691), the compositor of those unusual sheets of music. Later we also met and befriended Luis Robledo who now, after so many years finally published the canons in a book, although slightly changing the definition of the genre. The book which has been just published is entitled Los emblemas musicales de Juan del Vado (The musical emblems of Juan del Vado, Madrid: Fundación Caja Madrid, 2009). It includes an introductory study on the musical emblems and the figure of Juan del Valdo, the reproduction of the handwritten pages now preserved in the Biblioteca Nacional of Madrid, as well as the edition of the music in form of modern scores which solve the enigmas and leave them ready for interpretation.

These musical emblems were arranged by Juan del Vado as a prologue to a book of Mass completed between 1677 and 1679 and offered to Charles II’s stepbrother Juan José de Austria for use in the Chapel Royal.

“Instead of sonnets, I offer these enigmatic imprese or musical problems at the beginning of my book, which will have their keys – the musical keys, bars and pauses – at the end of the book. Some of these keys have several teeth, thus they are hard to falsify, and whoever has the genius to open these secret with a skeleton key, merits praise rather than punishment. Observe them as they are worthy of remark, and I entitle you to judge my book as you like, for I have done it to the books of others, too, so we are all equal.” (Biblioteca Nacional, Ms. M/1323, “Introduction to the masters and learned censors of this faculty”).
The manuscript M/1325, also by Juan del Vado, also includes these two pages which finally were omitted from the book delivered to the Chapel Royal.

Too bad the book does not contain a CD to listen to the music of Charles II’s ingenious master of harpsichord whose bequest included 20 Masses, 2 Lamentations, 96 religious compositions in Spanish and the partitures to six comedies performed in the theatre of the Palacio del Buen Retiro in Madrid. At least now, with the clarifying transcription by Luis Robledo, anyone can try to play it.

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Studiolum dijo...

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…and included in the really great tumblr page of The Owl hooteth.

Thanks to both of you!