Juan de Anchieta was born near Azpeitia in the Basque country, he was the scion of an aristocratic family related by marriage to the Loyola family. It seems likely that he studied music at Salamanca but his career didn't really begin until February 6th 1489 when he was appointed as a singer in Queen Isabella's court chapel at a salary of 20,000 maravedís per annum. Four years later this salary was raised to 30,000 maravedís per annum and in 1495 the queen appointed him as maestro de capilla to her son the 17-year-old prince Don Juan. As well as his salary the queen rewarded him by granting him several ecclesiastical preferments and on her death in 1504 Anchieta transferred to the household of her daughter Joanna and her consort Philip the Fair. During this period he travelled with Joanna's court to Flanders and England along with such accomplished musicians as Pierre de La Rue, Alexander Agricola and Marbrianus de Orto. His salary by this time had risen to 30,000 maravedís per annum and Joanna continued her mother's policy of granting him ecclesiastical livings to supplement his salary. In 1519 the Emperor Charles V declared that Anchieta who by then was 57 and in poor health was too old for service at court but continued to pay his salary. Anchieta was associated at this time with the Franciscan sisters in Azpeitia and acted for a time as their business manager. He died in Azpeitia in 1523 and was buried in the Iglesia de San Sebastián de Soreasu where he had been chaplain.
His music in some ways reminds me of his contemporary Peñalosa but it's far less ornate than Peñalosa's music. Peñalosa wrote for highly trained professional choirs while Anchieta's music is written for large choirs. It's very graceful and typically Iberian in its sonority but avoids the often very academic mannerisms of Peñalosa and the Flemish composers so beloved of the Spanish royal family and aristocracy. Juan de Anchieta was primarily interested in the sound of sonorous and approachable music you can hear this particularly clearly in his use of chant for his setting of verses from Psalm 111 (Beatus Vir) which you can hear below. It's a very plain but very appealing setting Anchieta keeps the chant largely intact adding only a little ornamentation and some cadential variation to propel the music forward. Enjoy :-).
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