Pedro Escobar (do Porto)

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Born: ca. 1465 — Oporto — Portugal
Died: 1535 — Évora — Portugal
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Music

Two wrote two complete masses of Pedro Escobar have survived, including a Requiem, the earliest by a composer from the Iberian peninsula. He also wrote a setting of the Magnificat, 7 motets, 4 antiphons, 8 hymns, and 18 villancicos. His music was popular, as attested by the appearance of copies in far-off places; for example native scribes copied two of his manuscripts in Guatemala. His motet Clamabat autem mulier Cananea was particularly praised by his contemporaries, and served as the source for instrumental pieces by later composers.

Life

Pedro Escobar was born at Oporto, Portugal, but nothing is known of his life until he entered the service of Isabella of Castile in 1489. He was a singer in her chapel for ten years, and clearly was working as a composer as well; in addition he was the only member of her chapel described in court records as Portuguese. In 1499 he returned to his native Portugal, but in 1507 received an offer of employment, which he accepted, as the maestro de capilla at the cathedral in Seville.

While there he had charge of the choirboys, having to take care of their room and board in addition to having to teach them to sing; he complained of low pay, and eventually resigned. In 1521 he was working in Portugal, as mestre da capela for Cardinal Dom Affonso. His career seems to have ended badly, however, for the final record of his life is a mention in a document of 1535 that he was an alcoholic and living in squalor.

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