Bernardino de Ribera (c.1520 – 1580)
The Renaissance era is rightly considered a golden era for Iberian music. Among the famous names of the Siglo de Oro are dozens of lesser-known figures, whose compositional activity is less appreciated today (probably because their music circulated mostly in manuscript rather than print) but they nonetheless form an important part of the fabric of the polyphonic age in Spain. Bernardino de Ribera is a prime example of such a musician. Born into a musical family near Valencia, he held Chapelmaster positions at Ávila, Toledo and Murcia Cathedrals. Only a handful of works are attributed to Ribera. Yet the main reason for Ribera’s obscurity today is the damage that the main source for his works has suffered. This Choirbook, housed in the archives of Toledo Cathedral, has had many folios torn from it rendering two Masses and some motets unsalvageable. The manuscript may also have contained several more Magnificat settings. Other motets suffer from lacunae, where illuminated letters have been removed from the manuscript, but, fortunately, with a little editorial detective work, these can be restored. Furthermore, a complete set of Valencian partbooks (E-VAcp 20) also contains five of his motets, three of which are unica. In many respects his music bridges the gap between Morales and Guerrero. A strong Flemish influence can be heard, particularly in the density of his counterpoint, alongside traditional Spanish “spice”, most obviously evident in Rex autem David and Vox in Rama. Alongside his compositions, he should also be remembered as mentor to the young Victoria and Vivanco during their time as choristers at Ávila cathedral.