Luis de Milán: Fantasía No.10


Luis de Milán (c. 1500 – c. 1561) was a Spanish Renaissance composer and vihuelist. The vihuela (de mano) was a very popular Spanish guitar-like instrument which was played extensively in the 15th and 16th centuries during the Spanish Renaissance.

The Renaissance movement constituted a quest for excellence by re-examining and reinterpreting classical antiquity (this quest was repeatedly revived during western history; especially in the 18th and 19th centuries). The result in music was particularly imaginative since no trace of this art survived from ancient Greece unlike architectural, literary, theatrical, and figurative arts.

The works of Spanish vihulelists such as this Luis de Milán ranged from the tradition of vocal polyphony through loose instrumental adaptations to new rational and empirical thinking creating innovative and distinctive instrumental music – one of the best examples is the fantasía style in which the composer prioritized improvisation and imagination over the restrictive prevailing music forms.
The Renaissance movement also introduced the long and slow process of the institutionalization of instrumental music whereas, until then, the role of the theory (theorists) and the praxis (performers) were clearly dissociated. The performers’ pursuit of the mastery of the instrument and edification, united in one, would eventually conclude in the Romantic era.

The “Consonancias (chordal improvisation) y (and) Redobles (virtuosic quick passages)” style on some fantasias such as this Fantasia No.10 could be seen as a response to this demand of the technical development, combined with Milán’s concerns about the interpretation (modes, tempi, tone) and the scientific aspects of the instrument itself expressed on his treatise El Maestro (Valencia, 1536),  would be an attempt to fulfil the legitimacy of instrumental music as an art.

This fantasia alternates between two compositional elements: Consonancias (chords combined with passages in a slow development) and Redobles (quick scales).

Related Samples

Fantasía No. 8

Kazu Suwa plays Fantasia No. 8 from Libro de música de vihuela de mano intitulado El maestro (1536) by Spanish composer/vihuelist Luis de Milán.