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Luis Milan

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Biography

Luis de Milán (c. 1500 – 1561 or possibly later) was a Spanish Renaissance composer, vihuelist (instrument similar to the guitar), and writer on music. He was the first composer in history to publish music for the vihuela de mano, an instrument employed primarily in the Iberian peninsula and some of the Italian states during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and he was also one of the first musicians to specify verbal tempo indications in his music.

He probably lived all his life in Valencia, though details are sketchy at best. He seems to have been employed by the ducal court until around 1538. In 1535 he published his first book, a parlor game with music, entitled El juego de mandar; in the next year he published what was to be his most important book, Libro de música de vihuela de mano intitulado El maestro. This book was dedicated to King John III of Portugal; this dedication, and the existence of six villancicos which Milán wrote in Portuguese, suggest that he may have traveled to that country and spent some time there.

The book is the first collection of vihuela music in history. It may have been intended as a book for students of the vihuela. The music is presented in grades from simple to complex, so that a beginning vihuelist can proceed from elementary to gradually more complicated pieces as he learns.

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