Jump to content

Juan del Encina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Juan Del Encina)

Juan del Encina
Bust of Juan del Encina in León
Bust of Juan del Encina in León
Born12 July 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 (12 July 1468 – 1529/1530)[1] was a composer, poet, priest, and playwright,[2]: 535  often credited as the joint-father (even "founder" or "patriarch") of Spanish drama, alongside Gil Vicente. 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. 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. 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. He was later forced to resign as Chaplain because he was not ordained.[3]


Book cover of his chansonnier's first edition (1496): 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. In 1496 he published his Cancionero, 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, 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. Several of his writings had pastoral themes as those first two, romanticizing rural life. 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] Further, 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, 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. Many of the surviving pieces are villancicos, of which he was a leading composer. The Spanish villancico is the equivalent of the Italian Frottola. 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. 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 14 January 1530, so the exact date of his death is not known, but it is thought to be in late 1529 or early 1530. 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] 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]

  • Una sañosa porfía (1486)
  • 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)

Ensemble performances of his work[edit]


  • 2021: Todos los bienes del mundo: Juan del Encina and Musical Traits in Spanish Renaissance — ContrArco Consort (Da Vinci C00526)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Slonimsky, Nicolas, ed. (1984). Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (7th ed.). Collier Macmillan Publishers. p. 662.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Magill, Frank N., ed. (1986). Critical Survey of Drama: Foreign Language Series. Vol. 2. Salem Press.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Pope, Isabel; Kington, Tess (2001). "Encina, Juan del". In Sadie, Stanley (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.). Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 194.
  4. ^ Roth, Norman (1995). Conversos, Inquisition, and the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain. The University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 157, 176–178.
  5. ^ López Morales, Humberto (1967). "Elementos leoneses en la lengua del teatro pastoril de los siglos XV y XVI". Actas del Segundo Congreso Internacional de Hispanistas (in Spanish): 411–419.


  • 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.
  • 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]