Hernando Franco

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Hernando Franco (1532 – November 28, 1585) was a Spanish composer of the Renaissance, who was mainly active in Guatemala and Mexico.


Franco was born in Galizuela (now part of Esparragosa de Lares, Badajoz Province) in Extremadura, a source region for many people who came to the New World in the 16th century. He was trained in music as a choir boy, and later apprentice and journeyman, at Segovia cathedral by Gerónimo de Espinar, who may also have been a teacher of Tomás Luis de Victoria. While a youth he met and befriended Lázaro del Álamo, who was to precede him as maestro de capilla in Mexico City.

Most likely Franco went to Nueva España in the 1550s, though there is no record of his activities until 1571 when he appears in the records as maestro de capilla of the cathedral of Santiago de Guatemala, which had been elevated to cathedral rank in 1534. That magnificent building had been newly constructed in the new site in the valley of Panchoy, present-day Antigua Guatemala, after the city had to be moved from the previous site in Almolonga, beginning in 1542.

Franco left that position in 1574 after a series of budget cuts that affected his salary, and undertook the journey to Mexico. Here he was fortunate to find the position of maestro de capilla of the new cathedral vacant. He was appointed the new chapel master in 1575, where his old friend Lázaro del Álamo had been maestro de capilla from 1556 to 1570.

Franco was clearly a well-respected and beloved...
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