Feijóo y Montenegro, Benito Jerónimo
- Almonte Howell
(b Casdemiro, Orense, Oct 8, 1676; d Oviedo, Sept 26, 1764). Spanish essayist. A Benedictine monk, he settled in Oviedo in 1709, teaching theology at the university and later serving as abbot in the monastery of his order. His major works are two series of essays on a wide variety of subjects: Theatro critico universal (nine books, 1726–40) and Cartas eruditas (five books, 1742–60). In his effort to combat scholasticism, authoritarianism and superstition, and his insistence on reason and verification, he was the leading Spanish representative of the Enlightenment. He was sensitive and knowledgeable about music, though a traditionalist, following the ancients in viewing music as symbolic of the harmony of the universe and capable of powerful moral influence. In his celebrated ‘Música de los templos’ (Theatro, i, no.14) he deplored current Italian fashions in church music, viewing chromaticism, fast tempos, dance and opera styles and use of violins as inimical to the majestic repose ideal for worship. He blamed Durón for first introducing the style, but singled out Literes as a praiseworthy contemporary composer. This work, like many of this others, provoked a fierce polemic. Other musical essays include ‘Maravillas de la música’ (...