- Wolfgang Freis
- and Bonnie J. Blackburn
(b Écija, c1510; d ?Écija, after1559). Spanish music theorist. All our knowledge of his life comes from his treatises. He was the son of a well-to-do Écija family and joined the Observant Franciscans at the age of 15. He studied at the University of Alcalá de Henares, probably in the Franciscan college. Eventually he became guardián of his convent (perhaps that in Écija), a duty he had to relinquish owing to illness. On 24 June 1560 he was elected definidor, a member of the governing body of the Franciscan province of Andalusia. Since no later documents have come to light, it is believed that he died in the early 1560s.
Bermudo refers only obliquely to early studies in music; at the university he studied mathematics. He clearly never held a musical position, and as a theorist he seems to have been self-taught through wide reading; his main modern sources are Faber Stapulensis, Gaffurius, Ornithoparchus and Glarean. The titles by which he is addressed in his books refer to him only as a dignitary of his order; his superior praised him as a fine preacher and confessor. Although his career may seem surprising for a theorist, it corresponds well to the attitude of Spanish Observant Franciscans, who did not cultivate polyphonic music. Bermudo devoted himself to music only after illness forced him to resign as ...