Estêvão de Brito

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Aliases: Estevao de Brito; Estevao de Brito; Estevaro de Brito


Born: c1575

Died: 1641


Portuguese composer Estêvão de Brito was born in Serpa (near Évora) c1575 and died in Málaga somewhere between 25 May and 2 December 1641. According to Barbosa Machado, in his Bibliotheca Lusitana, he studied music with Filipe de Magalhães at Évora Cathedral.

On 1 June 1597 he was appointed maestro de capilla at the Cathedral of Badajoz, although he had been performing the duties of the office since at least 8 February. In February 1608 he was ordained by the Archbishop of Évora, upon a recommendation of Badajoz Cathedral chapter. In the following three years the chapter would give him time off, in November, to compose Christmas villancicos.

On 16 February 1613 he was elected, among other five candidates, maestro de capilla of Málaga Cathedral. In Málaga, as at Badajoz, he was also given time off to compose villancicos for Christmas and for Corpus Christi festivities. In January 1618 he was offered the post of maestro de capilla of the Madrid royal chapel. He refused that post, for reasons that are still unknown. He remained at Málaga as maestro de capilla, teacher of the choirboys and composer until he became hill in November 1640.

Brito’s music survives in manuscripts at Málaga Cathedral. Seven of these manuscripts date from the 17th century, while the others are 18th century copies. These manuscripts contain music from other composers (like Urrede for example) besides Brito’s music. Some of these works (like for example, the Stabat Mater, Lucis Creator Optime or Jesu Dulcis Memoria) have been attributed to Brito (by Querol Gavaldá) although their authenticity is doubtful. His music is in general very lively, especially in his motets where he uses short phrases of two to four notes and develops into imitative style through the different voices. He also used a variety of note values as semiquavers and dotted rhythms appear in special places within the text to highlight some specific passage, contrasting with other passages in minims and semibreves (as we may see in the Lamentation settings). He also deepens in spiritual passages, as we may see in the Officium Defunctorum, where he sometimes paraphrases the Requiem a 4 by Cristóbal de Morales.

D. João IV’s library catalogue also listed 31 Christmas villancicos, for varied voices up to ten, and a Tratado de Musica that are lost.

View the Wikipedia article on Estêvão de Brito.

List of choral works

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