The sacred and the secular in Iberian Renaissance music: stylistic dialogues between separate genres

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As was often the norm in Renaissance Europe, many Iberian composers devoted their work to both sacred and secular music, those who composed masses and motets in the Spanish cathedrals – such as Juan de Anchieta, Francisco de Peñalosa, Pedro de Escobar, among others – being also some of the most prominent authors in secular song collections. However, if the language of their sacred music has been described and analysed – along with its secular counterpart, though less so – there is yet to be a thorough study on possible stylistic dialogues between both kinds of repertoire. Despite Robert Stevenson’s consideration that these composers’ ‘masses, motets, and secular pieces cultivate three separate and distinct styles’, in practicality he has demonstrated that these worlds are not as airtight as one might assume, as he himself described how Peñalosa, for example, resorted to the same composition technique for both sacred and secular pieces.Our paper thus aims to delve on this little-explored subject by taking further steps in identifying similarities in idiomatic and stylistic elements between Iberian sacred and secular repertoires, through the comparing and contrasting of the respective pieces of each composer’s corpus, focusing on the late-15th to early-16th century generation names which have left a considerable amount of works in both genres.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event45th Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference Prague - Association for Central European Cultural Studies - Institute of Musicology, Charles University, Prague
Duration: 4 Jul 20178 Jul 2017


Conference45th Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference Prague


  • Iberian composers
  • sacred vs secular
  • musical idiom and style
  • composition techniques


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