(b Ferrara, 1534; d Ferrara, Sept 20, 1590). Italian composer and singer. He was a relation (probably nephew) of Agostino Agostini. He came from a family with strong musical traditions, and from an early age studied for a musical and religious career. The appearance of his first known piece in Barré’s Terzo libro delle muse (Rome, 15627) suggests that he received his early training in Rome, as does the dedication of his first book of six-part madrigals to Tiberio Cerasi, who was also the dedicatee of Marenzio’s first book of villanellas. According to Cavicchi (MGG1), he was associated from 1572 with the cappella of Ferrara Cathedral, where older members of his family had also worked; in 1577 his name first appeared in the payment records of the Ferrarese court of Duke Alfonso II d’Este, in whose service he remained until his death. During the 1580s he served as an informal composition tutor to Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga, with whom he exchanged letters on matters of mutual musical interest. He was associated with many notable poets, among them Tasso and Guarini, and with members of the highest aristocracy. He was a priest, and pursued a distinguished religious career which culminated in his being created a Monsignore and an apostolic prothonotary. Although he composed no liturgical music his writings on religious subjects, ...
(b Vallerano, nr Viterbo, c1583; d Rome, Oct 3, 1629). Italian composer and organist. At the age of eight, at the choir school at S Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, he became a pupil of Nanino, whose daughter he later married. He completed his musical studies in 1607 and his first appointment was as organist and maestro di cappella of the Madonna del Ruscello, Vallerano. He later returned to Rome and became organist of S Maria in Trastevere, a post he held for six months from April 1615. He then worked simultaneously as vicemaestro di cappella there and as maestro di cappella of SS Trinità dei Pellegrini. From 26 May 1618 he was vicemaestro of S Lorenzo in Damaso. On 17 February 1626 he succeeded Vincenzo Ugolini as maestro di cappella of the Cappella Giulia at S Pietro and held the position until his death.
Agostini's output consists entirely of church music. He was a highly skilled contrapuntist. The five books of masses published in ...
(b Forlì, c1635; d Parma, Oct 1, 1680). Italian composer. According to Pitoni, he led a swashbuckling and notorious life and had ‘a natural inclination to impropriety and baseness’. As a young man he was expelled from his native city because of his involvement in a murder. He went to Ferrara, where he received his basic musical training from Mazzaferrata. Then he abruptly took up a military career and for serving in Crete in the war against the Turks was made a Knight of the Golden Spur. His earliest datable pieces are the new prologue and interludes that he wrote for a performance of Il Tolomeo in Venice in 1658. In 1660 he competed unsuccessfully for the post of maestro di cappella at Urbino Cathedral.
Apparently by 1664 Agostini had arrived in Genoa. According to Pitoni he once attended a Vespers service there and was so harsh in his criticism of the music that he was invited to compose a service of his own for the same church, which he did with a success that added notably to his local reputation. In Genoa too he was commissioned to write at least two works for the Teatro del Falcone (...
(b Puerto Príncipe, Cuba, ?Nov 28, 1844; d Havana, ?Dec 31, 1918). Pianist, music teacher, arranger, conductor, composer, and lawyer of Cuban birth, naturalized American. Born into a prominent family in Puerto Príncipe, Cuba (present-day Camagüey), Agramonte strongly supported the movement for independence from Spain. He studied music and the law in Cuba, Spain, and France. After vocal studies with Enrico Delle Sedie (1822–1907) and François Delsarte (1811–71) at the Paris Conservatory, he immigrated to the United States, settling in New York in 1869, where he remained until after Cuban independence in 1898. He became a US citizen in 1886.
In the 1870s and 1880s, Agramonte taught music at the Academy of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx. In the 1890s he taught with Dudley Buck and William Mason at the Metropolitan College of Music and ran his own School of Opera and Oratorio at his home, teaching singers such as ...
revised by Bertil H. van Boer
(b Löth, Östergötland, Feb 1, 1701; d Nuremberg, Jan 19, 1765). Swedish composer, violinist and harpsichordist. His father was a priest. He went to school in Linköping and studied at Uppsala University from 1721 to 1722 or 1723, where he played in the university orchestra, then led by the director musices Eric Burman. Early biographers said that Prince Maximilian of Hesse heard Agrell's violin playing in 1723 and called him to Kassel. Firm evidence of Agrell's activity there is, however, found only from 1734, when F. Chelleri was Kapellmeister. He was still working in Kassel between 1737 and 1742 during the reign of Count Wilhelm VIII and the court long owed him payment for service, as well as ‘ale and food money’, for the years 1743 to 1746. During his time at Kassel Agrell is reported to have made several journeys, visiting England, France, Italy and elsewhere.
Uncertain economic circumstances seem to have driven Agrell to seek the post of Kapellmeister in Nuremberg, a post which he obtained in ...
Keith A. Larson
(b ?Naples, c1575–85; d after 1617). Italian composer. He may have supported himself much as did his elder brother Giovanni Antonio, who in 1598 was teaching singing to the children of the Prince of Roccella, Fabrizio Carafa. Cerreto mentioned both brothers as excellent composers in Della prattica musica (1601), but only works by Agostino have survived. He published a book of six-part madrigals (Naples, 1617); there are also single five-part madrigals by him in two anthologies (RISM 16065 and 1609¹6) and in Macedonio di Mutio’s second book of five-part madrigals (1606). Between 1600 and 1630 Naples was the most important centre for the composition and printing of the increasingly outmoded polyphonic madrigal without continuo. During this period the only books of six-part madrigals published there were Agresta’s and a posthumous collection by Gesualdo (1626); Agresta’s reveals what the style of Gesualdo’s incompletely preserved book may have been. Like many of his Neapolitan contemporaries influenced by Gesualdo’s virtuoso madrigals, Agresta occasionally surpassed him in the degree of contrast between slow chromatic ...
Edward R. Lerner
revised by Rob C. Wegman and Fabrice Fitch
(b Ghent, ?1445/6; d Valladolid, August 15, 1506). South Netherlandish composer, active in Italy, France and the Low Countries. He was renowned for his composition in all genres cultivated in his time, and his music was as widely distributed as that of any of his contemporaries.
Some biographical information can be gleaned from the text of a musical setting entitled Epitaphion Alexandri Agricolae symphonistae regis Castiliae, printed by Georg Rhau in 1538. Here, the composer is called a ‘Belgian’, who died in 1506 at the age of 60 while travelling through Spain in the service of Philip the Fair. Two more epitaphs have recently been discovered by Bonnie Blackburn; one of these specifies the date of death, and reveals that he was a native of Ghent. Archival documents and musical manuscripts give his surname almost invariably as Agricola, although one payment record from the Burgundian court, written in ...
revised by Peter Wollny
(b Grossfurra, Thuringia, Oct 25, 1643; d Gotha, Feb 20, 1676). German composer and writer. After initially going to school in his native town he was sent in 1656 to Eisenach for three years. There he attended the town school, the staff of which included Theodor Schuchardt, a highly respected teacher of music and Latin. From 1659 to 1662 Agricola studied for his school-leaving examination at the Gymnasium of Gotha; the headmaster there was Andreas Reyher, who was the co-author of the Gothaer Schulmethodus, an educational work which set an example for the teaching of music too. In 1662–3 Agricola studied philosophy at Leipzig University and from 1663 to 1668 theology and philosophy at Wittenberg, where he was awarded a master's degree by the faculty of philosophy. His four recorded scholarly essays dating from this period are lost. He had begun to learn the fundamentals of music during his school years, and he may also have been a pupil of the Kantor of the Thomaskirche, Leipzig, Sebastian Knüpfer. He continued his musical training at Wittenberg, completing the study of composition under the guidance of Italian musicians resident there. Returning to his native Thuringia he was able to turn his musical abilities to good use in the Kapelle of the Schwarzburg-Sondershausen court until in ...
E. Eugene Helm
revised by Darrell Berg
(b Dobitschen, Saxe-Altenburg, Jan 4, 1720; d Berlin, Dec 2, 1774). German musicographer, composer, organist, singing master and conductor. His father occupied an important post as government agent and jurist in Dobitschen. Burney, who visited the Agricolas in 1772, reported that Johann Friedrich’s mother, born Maria Magdalena Manke, ‘was a near relation of the late Mr Handel, and in correspondence with him till the time of his death’; but later Handel research has failed to substantiate this claim.
Agricola began his study of music as a young child. In 1738 he entered the University of Leipzig, where he studied law; during this time he was a pupil of J.S. Bach and visited Dresden, where he heard performances of Passion oratorios and Easter music by Hasse. In 1741 he moved to Berlin, became a pupil of Quantz, made the acquaintance of C.P.E. Bach, C.H. Graun and other musicians, and embarked on a career that touched many aspects of Berlin’s musical life. He became keenly interested in music criticism and theoretical speculation in Berlin, and his work as a musicographer has proved to be his most lasting accomplishment. In ...
(b Hilpoltstein, nr Nuremberg, 1638/9; d Neuburg an der Donau, bur. May 3, 1697). German composer and organist. He was educated at the Jesuit Gymnasium of St Salvator, Augsburg. In 1660 he wrote the music for a play performed there. On 23 October of the same year he matriculated at the University of Ingolstadt, where he read theology. In 1663 he became a chamber musician and court organist at Neuburg an der Donau to Count Palatine Philipp Wilhelm, who was renowned for his patronage and understanding of the arts. The court Kapellmeister was G.B. Mocchi, who had been a pupil of Carissimi and who in 1675 renounced in Agricola’s favour a prebend that Pope Alexander VII had granted him in 1655. Agricola was required to compose a number of large-scale works for weddings in the count’s family. When the count’s eldest son, Johann Wilhelm, married the Archduchess Maria Anna, sister of Emperor Leopold I, in ...
(b Nuremberg, c1560–70; d ?Erfurt, after 1601). German composer. In 1601, when he published a collection of motets, Agricola was teaching at the Gymnasium Augustinianum at Erfurt; he can scarcely be identified with the Christianus Johannes Agricola who was a discantist in the Kapelle at Weimar in 1594. The surname ‘Noricus’, used on the title-page and in the dedication, meant ‘born at Nuremberg’, and a Johannes Agricola baptized on 29 November 1564 at St Sebaldus at Nuremberg could be the composer. Yet another Johann Agricola (d 1605), Kantor at St Bartholomäus, Frankfurt, in 1591, was probably not the composer.
As a composer Agricola is known only by Motetae novae pro praecipuis in anno festis (Nuremberg, 1601), dedicated to the Erfurt senate; the bass partbook addresses the same dedication to the Mühlhausen senate, so possibly the collection appeared in at least two editions. The preface is a humanistic essay about the importance of music from ancient times to the 16th century. The 26 motets, for four to six, eight and twelve voices, are settings in a freely imitative style characterized by fluent counterpoint. The exact scansion of the Latin texts, which include some on secular subjects, is evidence of Agricola’s humanistic education and profession....
Anna Maria Busse Berger
(b Schwiebus [now Świebodzin, Poland], c1486; d Magdeburg, June 10, 1556). German music theorist, teacher and composer. According to his own statements, he came from a peasant family and was largely self-taught in music. By 1520 he was in Magdeburg working as a music teacher. He became choirmaster of the Protestant Lateinschule in about 1525 and retained this position until his death.
Agricola was one of the earliest teachers of music to realize Luther's wish to incorporate music as a central component of Protestant education. His foremost aim in educating students and congregation was to present material as clearly as possible and to reach a large audience. It was for this reason that his early treatises were written in German rather than the customary Latin. His translation of the terms clavis (as Schlüssel), vox (as Stimme or Silbe) and scala (as Leiter) are still used today. His desire to relate music education to everyday life can be seen in his modernization of old-fashioned rules of harmonic and rhythmic proportions, which he related to commercial arithmetic, in particular the Rule of Three, which formed the most important component of arithmetic instruction in Latin schools. He was the only theorist to consider ...
(b 1600–10; d c1659). German composer and organist. It is possible that he is the same person as the Christoph Bauer who entered the University of Würzburg in 1625. From 1632 to 1642 he was at Neustadt an der Saale, from 1642 to 1644 at Bodenlauben and Ebenhausen and from 1645 to 1659 at Münnerstadt. In each place he was town clerk and notary; at Neustadt he was organist as well, and at the last three, which are near Würzburg, he was also an official of the Archbishop of Würzburg. He may have been a pupil of the Würzburg court composer Heinrich Pfendner, on works by whom he based eight eight-part masses (1647). His Geistliches Waldvöglein is a large collection of sacred songs in four parts, artless settings of popular, simple, often clumsy verses, in which, however, ‘the beginnings of the Singmesse’ are discernible (see Ursprung)....
(b Ballenstedt, July 13, 1790; d Berlin, Oct 8, 1873). German pianist, music teacher and composer, son of Carl Christian Agthe. He received his musical education from Ebeling in Magdeburg and Seebach in Klosterbergen before studying composition and counterpoint with M.G. Fischer in Erfurt. In 1810 he settled in Leipzig as a music teacher and second violinist in the Gewandhaus Orchestra, and there published his first compositions. He founded a music academy in Dresden with C. Kräger in 1823 which was publicly endorsed by Carl Maria von Weber; J.B. Logier’s methods of keyboard instruction were used there. In the next decade he set up similar institutes in Posen (1826), where Theodore and Adolf Kullak were his pupils, in Breslau (1831) and finally in Berlin (1832). He was forced to retire in 1845 because of weak eyesight. His compositions include at least nine opus numbers for piano (some with other instruments) and two manuscript songs in the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin....
(b Hettstedt, June 16, 1762; d Ballenstedt, Nov 27, 1797). German organist and composer, father of Albrecht Wilhelm Johann Agthe. He first learnt music with his grandfather Johann Michael Agthe, Kantor at the Rathsschule, and his great-uncle Andreas Agthe, a local organist; he later continued his musical studies as a choirboy and as a member of the local Stadtpfeiferei. From 1776 to 1782 he was director of music with the Hündelberg theatrical company in Reval (now Tallinn), where he composed his first Singspiele. He then moved to Ballenstedt to join the court orchestra of Prince Friedrich Albrecht of Anhalt-Bernburg as an organist and harpsichordist. There he became known as one of the best organists of his time and, after further studies with F.W. Rust, as an active composer of Singspiele, songs and instrumental pieces. His best-known work is a setting of Kotzebue’s Der Spiegelritter (1795), which was first performed by an amateur society in Ballenstedt and several times revived. Agthe himself undertook the publication of his only extant published works – two volumes of songs and a set of three easy keyboard sonatas....
Thomas F. Heck
(b Madrid, April 8, 1784; d Madrid, Dec 29, 1849). Spanish guitarist and composer. ‘Padre Basilio’ of Madrid, possibly Miguel Garcia, gave him his first instruction in the guitar, an instrument for which tablature notation was still commonly used in Spain. In about 1800 Aguado, like Fernando Sor, was influenced by the Italian Federico Moretti and adopted the conventional staff notation for the guitar; thereafter both Spaniards published their music in the improved manner championed by Moretti, distinguishing the musical parts by the direction of note stems, use of rests, etc. Aguado's artistic career unfolded slowly, owing to the Napoleonic invasion of Spain and its aftermath. He retreated to the village of Fuenlabrada in 1803, teaching and perfecting his technique there until 1824, the year his mother died; his Colección de estudios para guitarra appeared in Madrid in 1820. He moved to Paris in 1825 (while Sor was in Russia) and immediately gained an enviable reputation as a virtuoso and teacher; a revised version of his ...
(b Mexico City, Dec 7, 1945). Mexican pianist and composer. She studied the piano at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and composition in the workshop of the Conservatorio Nacional de Música under Héctor Quintanar and Mario Lavista. Her extensive output reveals a diversity of techniques and styles without formal adherence to compositional schools or avant-garde trends, but with an emphasis on the search for expressive freedom. Avant-garde techniques, however, are sometimes used to enhance the colour and integrity of her music, as in Navegantes del crepúsculo (‘Voyagers of the Twilight’, 1993), a trio in four movements for clarinet, bassoon and piano, which she describes as ‘a fantasy of abstract lyricism’. In Arabesco for solo recorder, the music explores the technical potential of the instrument and the performer, including the simultaneous use of two recorders, the contrapuntal exposition of the theme through multiphonics and nimble alternation between voice and instrument....
Eldonna L. May
(b Brownsville, TX, Nov 2, 1962). American percussionist, improviser, and composer. He received his bachelor’s degree from Corpus Christi State University; his master’s degrees in percussion performance from the California Institute of the Arts, where he studied with John Bergamo; and a DMA in contemporary music performance from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied with Steven Schick and Anthony Davis. An experimental performer and composer, he also studied with AACM member Wadada Leo Smith, who shaped his interest in the improvisatory and free jazz elements of Chicago’s creative music scene. Aguilar’s interdisciplinary approach to composition combines improvised and fully notated musical elements with the use of new technologies and informed by an interest in cultural and critical studies. His compositions, such as Different Paths, Same Destination (2003), incorporate elements of free jazz, structured improvisation, industrial sound, white noise, guitar as a hand-percussion instrument, and spatial sound relationships—while using instrumentation that relies primarily on various percussion instruments. Aguilar’s compositional processes include what he calls “imaginative reaction compositions” whereby he shares with musicians a number of elements—such as poetry, a variety of musical excerpts, and random thoughts and ideas—prior to recording their collective improvisation. The musicians listen to pre-recorded melodic and rhythmic structures Aguilar has composed and create collective, free improvisations, incorporating their interpretation of the shared elements. Dedicated to Julio Estrada, Aguilar’s ...
(b Huara, April 12, 1931). Chilean composer. He studied orchestration in 1945 with the Dutch teacher Fré Focke and composition at the National Conservatory of the University of Chile. From 1963 he studied conducting at the Cologne Musikhochschule with Wolfgang von der Nahme. He taught in Concepción, first as director of the city’s conservatory and later as director of the Arts Department of the University of Concepción (1980–83). He has published musicological articles in the Revista Musical Chilena and Atenea, and music criticism in the daily newspapers of Concepción and Santiago. He has won many distinctions: the Municipal Art Prize of Concepción (1987), the Regional Prize in Musical Arts (2006) and most prominently, the Republic President Prize in the classical music category (2006).
His works exhibit a marked preference for instrumental writing, especially chamber and piano music, and a profound affinity for serial and 12-tone procedures. His works are generally short, designated by the composer himself as microforms. The strong influence of the writer Franz Kafka and the Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro is evident in his instrumental as well as his vocal music....
(b Zaragoza, ?Aug 15, 1561; d Zaragoza, Dec 16, 1627). Spanish composer and organist. He probably studied with Melchor Robledo and Juan Oriz at the cathedral of La Seo, Zaragoza. He received holy orders on 19 January 1584 at S Pablo Apóstol, Zaragoza, where he was already in service. On 27 September 1585 he was appointed organist of Huesca Cathedral, where he supervised the construction of a new organ in 1588. Following the death of Juan Oriz, he became first organist of La Seo on 29 September 1603. He remained in that position until his death. By 20 January 1604 he was exempted, because of his eminence, from service at canonical hours except on solemn feasts. Repeatedly over the years the cathedral organ was repaired according to his specifications. In recognition of his Canticum Beatissimae Virginis deiparae Mariae, he received gifts from La Seo (100 libras) and Huesca Cathedral (150 reales). In ...