Vivanco’s Liber magnificarum

In 2020 A-R Editions issued Liber magnificarum (1607), a critical edition of Sebastián de Vivanco’s 18 Magnificat settings, as well as two settings of Benedicamus, based on five different surviving manuscripts.

Vivanco (ca. 1551–1622) was born, like his revered contemporary Tomás Luis de Victoria, in Avila. Having secured prestigious cathedral and university posts at Salamanca, Vivanco saw through the press, between 1607 and 1614, three luxury choirbooks containing 18 Magnificats, 10 masses, and 72 motets, spread over a total of more than 900 printed pages.

The first of these choirbooks, all of which were printed by the Fleming Artus Taberniel and his wife Susana Muñoz, is a cycle of Magnificats providing polyphony for the odd- and even-numbered verses in all eight tones, plus one extra Magnificat in each of the much-used first and eighth tones.

If Vivanco has been eclipsed for too long by his great contemporary and compatriot, it is in the complexity and ingenuity of the many canons to be found in these Magnificats that Vivanco outshines even Victoria.

Above, a likeness of Vivanco on the original cover page of his Liber magnificarum; below, one of the works included in the edition (RILM Abstracts 2020-11142).

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