Francisco Garro (c.1556-1623)
In his landmark work Spanish Cathedral Music in the Golden Age, Robert Stevenson barely mentions Francisco Garro, and his name is omitted from a list of some 30 eminent Spanish composers of the age. Perhaps this was because Garro spent the majority of his career in Portugal (not his native Spain), rather than for any musical deficiency. As a result his name is barely known today but he was clearly highly regarded by his employers and colleagues at the Royal Chapel in Lisbon where he worked as Chapel Master from 1592 until his death in 1623. Like many Iberian-based composers of the age, such as Philippe Rogier and Géry de Ghersem, a portion of his music was lost when the Library of John IV was destroyed by fire in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. Fortunately, however, two books of his sacred music were published in Lisbon in 1609 – the first time polyphonic music had been published in Portugal. The first contains progressive polychoral works whilst the second contains more traditional polyphonic Masses, Motets and Antiphons. The selection below represents the complete music of the latter collection. In these works, Garro shows his contrapuntal learning and, particularly in the motets, a great sense of expression equal to other more well-known figures of the Siglo de Oro.