Tiento (Fantasy) No. 23   Francisco Correa de Arauxo (1584–1654)  [ORGAN]

"Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies"


Francisco Correa de Arauxo (1584–1654) is considered one of the major composers and music theorists of the late Spanish Renaissance. What little biographical data we have is that he was born in Seville and baptized probably in September 1584. He was appointed organist of the Salvador (the second church in Seville) in 1599, and ordained priest probably in 1608. His relationship with the clergy however does not always seem to have been amicable: reports have survived chronicling problems with keys, money, rudeness and misbehavior in the church, issues with substitute organists, etc., the court ruling sometimes for Correa, sometimes against. One of these lawsuits landed Correa in jail for a short time.

(Mind you, in those days with a few large churches in a city (vs. many small churches like we have today), and with all the Masses, weddings and memorial services, organ posts were easily full time jobs sometimes requiring 'assistant organists'.)

After several unsuccessful attempts to become organist at the Cathedral, he accepted an offer to take the main position at the Cathedral of Segovia and remained there until his death, in spite of invitations by the Cathedral of Seville to return home and take the office he always wanted. He is buried in the Cathedral of Segovia. He died age 71 in abject poverty.

I'm playing from his sole surviving work: Libro de tientos y discursos de música practica, y theorica de organo intitulado Facultad organica (A book of fantasies and discourses on practical music and organ theory entitled Facility at the Organ), generally referred to as the Facultad Organica (Facility at the Organ) for short, a 550 page tome published in 1626 including 69 of his compositions as well as instruction in music theory and organ performance practice. I'll make it available for perusal at Donut Hour if you're so inclined. (It took weeks to arrive from the sole publisher in Italy — not exactly available on Amazon!) Correa doesn't appear to have composed for anything other than organ.

I find these forays into music four centuries ago interesting because they give us a window into a different yet still "Western" world, and remind us that four centuries from now folks will likely find our music (if not culture more generally!) equally strange and distant.