Juan del Encina

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Juan del Encina
Bust of Juan del Enzina in León
Bust of Juan del Enzina in León
BornJuly 12, 1468
possibly Fermoselle, Encina de San Silvestre or La Encina, Castile
Died1529 (aged 60–61)
Toledo, Spain
OccupationPlaywright, poet, musician
NationalityCastilian, Spanish
Alma materUniversity of Salamanca
Literary movementRenaissance humanism
Spanish Renaissance
Notable worksCancionero, Égloga de Plácida y Vitoriano

Juan del Encina (July 12, 1468 – 1529 or 1530)[1] was a composer, poet, and playwright,[2]: 535  often called the founder, along with Gil Vicente, of Iberian drama.[1] His birth name was Juan de Fermoselle.[1] He spelled his name Enzina, but this is not a significant difference; it is two spellings of the same sound, in a time when "correct spelling" as we know it barely existed.


He was born in 1468 near Salamanca,[1] probably at Encina de San Silvestre, one of at least 7 known children of Juan de Fermoselle, a shoemaker, and his wife.[3] He was of Jewish converso descent.[1][4] After leaving Salamanca University sometime in 1492[1] he became a member of the household of Don Fadrique de Toledo, the second Duke of Alba, although some sources believe that he did not work for the Duke of Alba until 1495.[3] A plausible argument is that his first post was as a Corregidor in northern Spain.[3]

Fermoselle was a Chaplain at the Salamanca Cathedral in the early 1490s.[3] It was here that he changed his name from Juan de Fermoselle to Juan del Enzina, or Encina (meaning holm oak) during his stay as Chaplain.[3] He was later forced to resign as Chaplain because he was not ordained.[3]


Book cover of his chansonnier's first edition (1496) es e compositor de sale mayo y entra abril: Cancionero de todas las obras de Juan del Enzina con otras cosas nueuamente añadidas

In 1492 the poet entertained his patron with a dramatic piece, the Triunfo de la fama, written to commemorate the fall of Granada.[3] In 1496 he published his Cancionero,[3] a collection of dramatic and lyrical poems. He then applied for the cantor post at Salamanca Cathedral, but the position was divided among three singers, including his rival Lucas Fernandez.[3]

While working for the Duke of Alba, Encina was the program director, along with Lucas Fernandez.[2]: 537  Here Encina wrote pastoral eclogues, the foundation of Spanish secular drama.[1] Encina's plays are predominantly based on shepherds and unrequited love.[2]: 540 

Encina was ambitious, looking to be promoted based on preferment,[3] so around 1500 he relocated to Rome, where he apparently served in the musical establishments of several cardinals or noblemen.[1] Encina was appointed to the Archdiaconate of Malaga Cathedral by Julius II in 1508.[3]

In 1518 he resigned from position at Malaga for a simple benefice at Moron, and the following year he went to Jerusalem,[3] where he sang his first mass.[3] He also wrote about the events during his pilgrimage to Jerusalem in Tribagia o Via Sacra de Hierusalem.[1] In 1509 he had held a lay canonry at Málaga;[3] in 1519 he was appointed by Leon for the priorship of Leon Cathedral.[1] His last job was recorded as being in Leon, where he is thought to have died towards the end of 1529.[2]: 438 

His Cancionero is preceded by a prose treatise (Arte de trobar) on the condition of the poetic art in Spain. His fourteen dramatic pieces mark the transition from the purely ecclesiastical to the secular stage.[2]: 539  The Aucto del Repelón and the Égloga de Fileno dramatize the adventures of shepherds;[2]: 540  the latter, like Plácida y Vitoriano, is strongly influenced by the Celestina. The intrinsic interest of Encina's plays is slight, but they are important from the historical point of view, for the lay pieces form a new departure, and the devout eclogues prepare the way for the autos of the 17th century. Moreover, Encina's lyrical poems are remarkable for their intense sincerity and devout grace.

Even though his works were dedicated to royal families, he never served as a member of a royal chapel.[3] And even though Encina worked in many Cathedrals and was ordained as a priest, no religious musical works are known to still exist.[1] Most of his works were done by his mid-30s,[3] some 60 or more songs attributed to Encina, and another 9 settings of texts on top of that, to which the music could also be added, but not for certain.[3] Many of the surviving pieces are villancicos, of which he was a leading composer.[3] The Spanish villancico is the equivalent of the Italian Frottola.[3] There are three and four voice settings that offer a variety of styles depending on the kind of text, with very limited movements in the voices in preparation for the cadence points.[3] To make the text heard clearly, Encina used varied and flexible rhythms that are patterned on the accents of the verse, and used simple yet strong harmonic progressions.[3]

Leonese times[edit]

Encina held the priorship of Leon Cathedral from November 1523 until his final illness in December 1529.[1] Juan del Encina's will was presented on January 14, 1530, so the exact date of his death is not known, but it is thought to be in late 1529 or early 1530.[3] In his will he noted that he wanted to be buried beneath the choir of Salamanca Cathedral,[3] and in 1534 his remains were taken to the Cathedral.[2]: 538 

Leonese language influence[edit]

Juan del Encina wrote in Castillian with Leonese language influences[5][full citation needed] in his pastoral eclogues. He was from Salamanca, a Leonese-speaking region, and eventually arrived at the capital of the long-vanished Kingdom of León, where he died.

He was also a songwriter for the church.[citation needed]

Selected works[edit]

  • Triunfo de la fama (1492)
  • Cancionero (1496)
  • Tan buen ganadico (1496)
  • Más vale trocar (1496)
  • Triste España sin ventura (1504)
  • Plácida y Victoriano (1513)
  • Églogas
  • Oy comamos y bebamos (late 15th century)
  • Tribagia o Via Sacra de Hierusalem (1521)


  • ???? – [MAY] Mayrat. El Viaje del Agua. Grupo Odres. Saga WKPD-10/2035. [6]
  • 1960 – [ANG] Victoria de los Ángeles – Spanish Songs of the Renaissance. Victoria de los Ángeles. Ars Musicae de Barcelona. José Maria Lamaña.[7] Se puede encontrar en CD ensamblado con otras grabaciones en: Victoria de los Ángeles – Cantos de España. EMI Classics 7243 5 66 937 2 2 (4 CD). [8]
  • 1968 – [RES] Music from the Time of Christopher Columbus. Musica Reservata. Philips 432 821-2 PM. [9]
  • 1970 – [EMC] Music of the Royal Courts of Europe 1150–1600. Early Music Consort of London. David Munrow. Reeditado en CD como: The Pleasures of the Royal Courts. Elektra Nonesuch 9 71326-2. [10]
  • 1971 – [VAL] El Camino de Santiago. Cantos de peregrinación. Escolanía y Capilla Musical de la Abadía del Valle de los Caídos. Leoncio Diéguez. Laurentino Saenz de Buruaga. Cuarteto y Grupo de Instrumentos Antiguos Renacimiento. Ramón Perales de la Cal. EMI (Odeón) 7243 5 67051 2 8. [11]
  • 1973 – [MUN] Music from the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. Early Music Consort of London. David Munrow.[12] Se puede encontrar en CD ensamblado con otras grabaciones en: Music for Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain – Instrumemts of the Middle Ages & Renaissance. Testament SBT 1251 . [13]
  • 1974 – [BER] Old Spanish Songs. Spanish songs from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Teresa Berganza. Narciso Yepes.[14] Se puede encontrar en CD ensamblado con otras grabaciones en: Canciones españoles. Deutsche Grammophon 435 648-2. [15]
  • 1974 – [JOC] Antik Musik på Wik – Early Music at Wik. Joculatores Upsaliensis.[16] Se puede encontrar en CD ensamblado con otras grabaciones en: Antik Musik på Wik – Early Music at Wik. Bis CD 3. [17]
  • 1976 – [SPA] Weltliche Musik im Christlichen und Jüdischen Spanien (1450–1550). Hespèrion XX. Jordi Savall. Virgin Veritas Edition 61591 (2 CD). [18]
  • 1977 – [PAR] Ars Antiqua de Paris à la Sainte Chapelle. Ars Antiqua de Paris. Coda 9605-1. [19]
  • 1979 – [ATR] Villancicos – Chansons populaires espagnoles des XVe et XVIe siècles. Atrium Musicae de Madrid. Gregorio Paniagua. Harmonia mundi "Musique d'Abord" HMA 190 1025. [20]
  • 1980 – [MAD] La Spagna. 15th & 17th Century Spanish Variations. Atrium Musicae de Madrid. Gregorio Paniagua. Bis CD-163. [21]
  • 1981 – [ANT] Obra Musical Completa de Juan del Enzina. Miguel Á. Tallante. Pro Mvsica Antiqva de Madrid y solistas. Nueva edición (1990): MEC 1024 a 1027 CD
  • 1984 – [COM] Romeros y Peregrinos. Grupo Universitario de Cámara de Compostela. Carlos Villanueva. EMI Classics CB-067. [22]
  • 1986 – [COH] L'homme armé: 1450–1650. Musique de guerre et de paix. Boston Camerata. Joel Cohen. Erato ECD 88168. [23]
  • 1987 – [KIN] Music from the Spanish Kingdoms. Circa 1500 Ensemble. CRD 3447. [24]
  • 1988 – [RIC] Music from the time of Richard III. Yorks Waits. Saydisc CD-SDL 364. [25]
  • 1988 – [GEN] Musica dell'época di Cristoforo Colombo. I Madrigalisti di Genova. L. Gamberini. Ars Nova CDAN 173. [26]
  • 1989 – [DAN] El Cancionero Musical de Palacio. Musik aus der Zeit der Katholischen Könige in Spanien, 1450–1550. Ensemble Danserye. Preiser Records 90028. [27]
  • 1991 – [DAE] El Cancionero de la Catedral de Segovia. Ensemble Daedalus. Roberto Festa. Accent ACC 9176. 1991. Contiene Justa fue mi perdiçión. [28]
  • 1991 – [HES] Juan del Encina: Romances y villancicos. Jordi Savall. Hespèrion XX. Astrée (Naïve) ES 9925. [29]
  • 1991 – [PAL] El Cancionero de Palacio, 1474–1516. Música en la corte de los Reyes Católicos. Hespèrion XX. Jordi Savall. Astrée (Naïve) ES 9943. [30]
  • 1991 – [CHR] From a Spanish Palace Songbook. Music from the time of Christopher Columbus. Margaret Philpot, Shirley Rumsey, Christopher Wilson. Hyperion "Helios" 55097. [31]
  • 1991 – [CHA] Chansons – Danses – Musiques Médiévales et Renaissances. Ensemble Jehan de Channey. De plein Vent CD 1989-04. [32]
  • 1992 – [NEF] Music for Joan the Mad. Spain 1479–1555. La Nef. Sylvain Bergeron. Dorian Discovery 80128. [33]
  • 1992 – [WAV] 1492 – Music from the age of discovery. Waverly Consort. Michael Jaffee. EMI Reflexe 54506. [34]
  • 1993 – [ALT] In Gottes Namen fahren wir. Pilgerlieder aus Mittelalter und Renaissance. Odhecaton, Ensemble für alte Musik, Köln. FSM 97 208. [35]
  • 1993 – [GOT] The Voice in the Garden. Spanish Songs and Motets, 1480–1550. Gothic Voices. Christopher Page. Hyperion 66653. [36]
  • 1993 – [AKA] Amando e Desiando. Spanish and Italian music from the 16th century. Akantus. Alice Musik Produktion ALCD 010
  • 1994 – [SEP] Sephardic Songs in the Hispano-Arabic tradition of medieval Spain. (Canciones Sefardies de la tradición hispanoárabe en la España medieval. Ballads of the Sephardic Jews). Sarband. Vladimir Ivanoff. Jaro 4206-2. Sonifolk 21 115. Dorian Recordings DOR-93190. [37]
  • 1995 – [CAN] Canciones, Romances, Sonetos. From Juan del Encina to Lope de Vega. La Colombina. Accent 95111. [38]
  • 1995 – [ROM] Al alva venid. Música profana de los siglos XV y XVI. La Romanesca. José Miguel Moreno. Glossa 920203. [39]
  • 1995 – [CAM] Songs and dances from the Spanish Renaissance. Camerata Iberia. MA Records MA 035A. [40]
  • 1995 – [THO] A Royal Songbook. Spanish Music from the time of Columbus. Musica Antiqua of London. Philip Thorby. Naxos 8.553325. [41]
  • 1995 – [LAN] Landscapes. Three centuries of world music. David Bellugi et al. Frame 9506. [42]
  • 1995 – [RON] A Song of David. Music of the Sephardim and Renaissance Spain. La Rondinella. Dorian Discovery DIS-80130. [43]
  • 1995 – [REN] Odyssey. Progressive Performance of ancient songs. New World Renaissance Band. Nightwatch 1006. [44]
  • 1995 – [ARA] Des Croisades à Don Quichotte. Musique du pourtour méditerranéen (XIIe-XVIe siècles). Ensemble vocal et instrumental Arabesque. Domitille de Bienassis. Solstice SOCD 125. [45]
  • 1996 – [ACC] Cancionero Musical de Palacio. Ensemble Accentus. Thomas Wimmer. Naxos 8.553536. [46]
  • 1996 – [BIN] Sola m'ire. Cancionero de Palacio. Ensemble Gilles Binchois. Dominique Vellard. Virgin Veritas 45359. [47]
  • 1996 – [FAG] All the King's Men. Henry VIII & the Princes of the Renaissance. I Fagiolini. Robert Hollingworth. Concordia. Mark Levy. Metronome 1012. [48]
  • 1996 – [PIF] Los Ministriles. Spanish Renaissance Wind Music. Piffaro, The Renaissance Band. Joan Kimball, Robert Wiemken. Archiv 453 441. [49]
  • 1996 – [RES] Resonanzen '96. Musik aus den Habsburgerlanden. Varios grupos. ORF "Edition Alte Musik" CD 091 (2 Cds). [50]
  • 1997 – [RIC] A Ricolta Bubu – Medieval and Renaissance Music. Bob, Frank en Zussen. Pavane ADW 7391. [51]
  • 1998 – [MIN] Court and Cathedral. The two worlds of Francisco de Peñalosa. Concentus Musicus Minnesota. Arthur Maud. Meridian 84406. [52]
  • 1998 – [JOU] Sephardic Journey. Spain and the Spanish Jews. La Rondinella. Dorian DOR 93 171. [53]
  • 1998 – [FIC] De Antequara sale un moro. Musique de l'Espagne chrétienne, maure et juive vers 1492. Ensemble Música Ficta. Carlos Serrano. Jade 74 321 79256-2. [54]
  • 1998 – [BEG] Cartas al Rey Moro. Begoña Olavide. Jubal JMPA 001. [55]
  • 1998 – [UFF] Música no tempo das Caravelas. Música Antiga da UFF.
  • 1999 – [VIR] Bella de vos som amorós. La Música en la Corte de los Reyes Católicos y Carlos I. Capella Virelai. Jordi Reguant. La mà de guido 2035. [56]
  • 1999 – [SAV] La Folia, 1490–1701. Corelli, Marais, Martín y Coll, Ortiz, & Anónimos. Jordi Savall et al. Alia Vox AV 9805 (CD). Alia Vox AVSA 9805 (SACD-H). [57]
  • 1999 – [UMB] Chacona. Renaissance Spain in the Age of Empire. Ex Umbris. Dorian 93207. [58]
  • 2000 – [DIF] Differencias – A Journey through Al-Andalus and Hispania. Codex Huelgas – Villancicos. Ensemble Differencias. Conrad Steinmann. Divox Antiqua CDX-79809. [59]
  • 2000 – [OAK]' Piva. Renaissance Song of Italy and Spain. Live Oak. Gyre Music 10032. [60]
  • 2000 – [MAG] Plaser y gasajo. Música cortesana en tiempos del Papa Alejandro VI. Capella de Ministrers. Carles Magraner. Auvidis Ibèrica (Naïve) AVI 8027. [61]
  • 2000 – [CAT] Carlos V. Mille Regretz: La Canción del Emperador. La Capella Reial de Catalunya y Hespèrion XXI. Jordi Savall. Alia Vox AV 9814 (CD). Alia Vox AVSA 9814 (SACD-H). [62]
  • 2000 – [SPI] Pilgerwege. Freiburger Spielleyt. Verlag der Spielleute CD 0003. [63]
  • 2000 – [MAY] Nunca fue pena mayor. Música Religiosa en torno al Papa Alejandro VI. Capella de Ministrers y Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana. Carles Magraner. Auvidis Ibèrica (Naïve) AVI 8026. [64]
  • 2001 – [CON] Constantinople. Musique du Moyen Âge et de la Renaissance. Kiya Tabassian & Ensemble Constantinople. ATMA ACD2 2269. [65]
  • 2001 – [GUI] Cançoner del duc de Calàbria. Duos i Exercicis sobre els vuit tons. In Canto. La mà de guido 2043. [66]
  • 2001 – [TER] ¡Baylado!. Music of Renaissance Spain. The Terra Nova Consort. Dorian 90298. [67]
  • 2001 – [ORL] Food, Wine & Song. Music & Feasting in Renaissance Europe. Orlando Consort. Harmonia Mundi HMU 90 7314. [68]
  • 2002 – [OLA] A las puertas de Granada. Begoña Olavide. Mudéjar. Jubal JMPA 005. [69]
  • 2002 – [DUF] Cancionero. Music for the Spanish Court 1470–1520. The Dufay Collective. Avie AV0005. [70]
  • 2002 – [WIM] Misteris de Dolor. Cantos sacros de Catalunya y Polifonía instrumental española – s. XVI-XVII. Accentus Austria. Thomas Wimmer. Pneuma PN-410. [71]
  • 2002 – Hoy comamos y bebamos. Coro Justicia de Aragón. Susana Sarfson. Séptimo Cielo, Zaragoza.
  • 2003 – [PAN] La Conquista de Granada – Isabel la Católica. Las Cortes europeas, los Cancioneros y Musica Andalusi Nazari. Música Antigua. Eduardo Paniagua. Pneuma PN-660. [72]
  • 2003 – [NOT] El Fuego. Musique polyphonique profane di Siècle d'Or. Música de la Corte. Eduardo Notrica. Voice of Lyrics VOL BL 703
  • 2004 – [CAP] Isabel I, Reina de Castilla. Luces y Sombras en el tiempo de la primera gran Reina del Renacimiento 1451–1504. La Capella Reial de Catalunya & Hespèrion XXI. Jordi Savall. Alia Vox AV 9838 (CD). Alia Vox AVSA 9838 (SACD-H). [73]
  • 2004 – [CDM] Cancionero de Palacio. Capella de Ministrers. Carles Magraner. Licanus CDM 0409. [74]
  • 2005 – [MAP] Música cortesana en la Europa de Juana I de Castilla 1479–1555. Las Cortes europeas y los Cancioneros. Musica Antigua. Eduardo Paniagua. Pneuma PN-710. [75]
  • 2005 – [ROS] In Vino. Wine in music from the 15th and 16th Centuries. La Rossignol. Tactus 400004. [76]
  • 2006 – [REI] Christophorus Columbus. Paraísos Perdidos. Hespèrion XXI. La Capella Reial de Catalunya. Jordi Savall. Alia Vox AVSA 9850 A+B (2 SACD-H). [77]
  • 2006 – [BOR] Borgia. Música religiosa en torno al papa Alejandro VI (1492–1503). Capella de Ministrers. Carles Magraner. Licanus CDM 0616. [78]
  • 2006 – [CIB] La Spagna. Felipe I El Hermoso. Mecenas de la música europea. Camerata Iberia. Juan Carlos de Mulder. Open Music BS 059 CD


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  2. ^ a b c d e f g Magill, Frank N., ed. Critical Survey of Drama: Foreign Language Series v2. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Salem Press, 1986.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Pope, Isabel; Tess Knighton. Encina, Juan del. Sadie, Stanley, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 2nd edition. V8. New York City: Grove’s Dictionaries Inc., 2001: 194
  4. ^ See, Norman Roth, "Conversos, Inquisition, and the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain", Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1995, pp. 157, 176–178.
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  37. ^ "Sephardic Songs". www.medieval.org.
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  • Teatro completo de Juan del Encina (Madrid, 1893), edited by F. Asenjo Barbieri.
  • Cancionero musical de los siglos XV y XVI (Madrid, 1894), edited by F. Asenjo Barbieri,
  • R. Mitjana, Sobre Juan del Encina, musico y poeta (Malaga, 1895).
  • M. Menendez y Pelayo, Antologia de poetas liricos castellanos (Madrid, 1890–1903), Vol. VII
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Encina, Juan Del". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 368.
  • Magill, Frank N, ed. "Critical Survey of Drama: Foreign Language Series" v2. Salem Press, 1986: 535–45.
  • Pope, Isabel; Tess Knighton Encina, Juan del. Sadie, Stanley, ed. "The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 2nd edition" V8.Grove's Dictionaries Inc., 2001: 193–96.
  • Slonimsky, Nicolas, ed. "Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians" seventh edition. Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1984: 662.
  • Morais, Manuel (ed.), La obra musical de Juan del Encina (Salamanca: Centro de Cultura Tradicional, 1997).
  • Buekholder, J. Peter, Claude V Palisca. "Norton Anthology of Western Music: volume 1" fifth edition. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2006
  • Gómez, Maricarmen (ed.), Historia de la Música en España e Hispanoamérica 2. De los Reyes Católicos a Felipe II (Madrid-México D.F., Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2012).
  • Pastor Comín, Juan José, "La escritura musical de Juan del Encina" poetics más allá de la palabra," in F.B. Pedraza Jiménez, R. González Cañal, and E.E. Marcello (coords.) El teatro en tiempos de Isabel y Juana (1474-1517): XXXIX Jornadas de teatro clásico (Ciudad Real: Univ. de Castilla-La Mancha, 2017), pp. 159-75.

External links[edit]