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Juan Cabanilles

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Juan Bautista José Cabanilles (September 6, 1644 in Algemesi near Valencia – April 29, 1712 in Valencia) was a Spanish organist and composer at Valencia cathedral. He is considered by many to have been the greatest Spanish baroque composer, and is sometimes called the Spanish Bach.

He probably began his musical career as a singer in a choir of a local church. Later he studied to become a priest in the cathedral at Valencia, which included lessons in music. On May 15, 1665, at 20 years of age, he was named the assistant organist of the cathedral. A year later, upon the death of his predecessor, he became the principal organist. On September 22, 1668 he was ordained as a priest. He kept his position as principal organist for 45 years, but from 1703 on his health often necessitated that a substitute be found. From 1675 to 1677 he also took charge of teaching the children in the cathedral choir.

Many of Cabanilles’s compositions are virtuosic and advanced for their time. The majority of his manuscripts are kept in the Biblioteca de Catalunya in Barcelona. Numerous compositions for organ (tientos, toccatas, passacaglias, and other works) have survived, as well as a number of works for choirs of up to 13 parts.

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