Vicente Olmos Claver: A Spanish Chapel Master of the 18th Century

We have received the following from Ángel Marzal, who recently cataloged the works of Vicente Olmos Claver for RISM. 

Vicente Olmos Claver was born around 1744 in Catarroja, a Spanish town located near Valencia. According to documentation in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Valencia, our chapel master began singing as an infantillo in the Cathedral's choir of the chapel of music in 1754 [footnote 1]. Later, he was named mosso de capella on June 22, 1762, as stated in one of the notarial protocols of the archive of the Cathedral of Valencia [footnote 2].

Shortly after, in 1763, the master Olmos Claver wrote two polyphonic psalms that started his extensive liturgical production: the psalm Dixit Dominus 1.r tono (RISM ID no. 1001111437) [footnote 3] for 8 voices with organ accompaniment and otro, as well as the psalm Beatus Vir 2º tono (RISM ID no. 1001111521) [footnote 4], also for 8 voices with organ accompaniment and continuo. Both manuscripts are signed Maestro Olmos and are kept in the musical archive of the Santa Iglesia Catedral of Segorbe. With these early musical compositions Vicente Olmos Claver began a production that he would not interrupt until he died. Soon after, he was appointed Acòlit, acquiring the responsibilities of that post in the music chapel of the Valencia Cathedral. The archive of the Cathedral preserves several recently published documents that prove this [footnote 5].

In 1768, Vicente Olmos Claver was also appointed maestro of one of the main music chapels in the city of Valencia: the music chapel of the Palacio Real of Valencia. Therefore, Vicente Olmos combined his activities both in the Palacio Real of Valencia and his duties in the Cathedral. In fact, the "Cabildo" of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Valencia granted Olmos permission to take on his duties in the Real [footnote 6].

Four years later, in 1772, Vicente Olmos Claver won the post of chapel master of the Santa Iglesia Catedral of Segorbe at an examination board. This new condition put an end to the bond that he had maintained for almost two decades with the Metropolitan Cathedral of Valencia, where he had trained with the chapel masters José Pradas, Pascual Fuentes and Francisco Morera. Likewise, it seems that his new post in the Cathedral of Segorbe, a town far from the city of Valencia, necessarily meant that he had to abandon the post of chapel master in the Palacio Real of Valencia. Although Vicente Olmos Claver spent a mere eight years in Segorbe, this was his most prolific period in terms of musical creation; his musical catalogue grew enormously, especially in the composition of liturgical villancicos.

The last biographical period of Vicente Olmos Claver takes place in the Hieronymite monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Murta in Alzira where he became a monk in 1780. Thus, the documentation of the Murta certifies the first reception of Vicente Olmos Claver in the monastery in an act signed on October 27, 1779 [footnote 7]. This document states that our author arrived at the monastery as a priest. The Acts of March 2, 1780 [footnote 8], July 25, 1780 [footnote 9], and September 8, 1780 [footnote 10] effectively record the acceptance of Vicente Olmos Claver into the community of the Hieronymites of Nuestra Señora de la Murta in Alzira [footnote 11].

The Carta de Profesión of Vicente Olmos Claver dates from November 1, 1780. This document is found in the Libro de profesiones del monasterio de Nuestra Señora de la Murta which is kept in the library of the Ateneo Mercantil of Valencia [footnote 12]. This manuscript went unnoticed for over 230 years until it was published in our research (MARZAL 2013 and 2019). We must point out that it was at this time, a time of extraordinary spirituality, that Vicente Olmos Claver changed his name to the monastic Fray Vicente de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados Olmos. Our author spent more than 30 years in the monastery of the Murta in Alzira. Ultimately, he died in 1812 in his native town of Catarroja, according to the Libro de Misas of the monastery [footnote 13]. If Vicente Olmos Claver was born around 1744 and died in 1812, he must have died at the age of approximately 68.

As for the musical production of Vicente Olmos Claver, it can be framed generically as sacred music: first, because there is not a single secular piece in his catalogue of works and second, perhaps, especially because it is a corpus of music that was written in and for the Church. Nevertheless, and always within the aforementioned generic framework, it is essential to emphasize that the work of Vicente Olmos Claver can be classified into two clearly differentiated typologies.

On the one hand, the musical pieces composed for the strictest celebrations of Christian worship, always with a Latin text, are classified as liturgical music. 

On the other hand, we find a different stylistic group made of musical compositions intended for more minor church functions. Here we find different genres and forms of the musical liturgy differentiated not only by their text in the vernacular, but perhaps even more so by the degree of freedom in the more technical aspects of musical composition. This group has been classified as paraliturgical music.

Our study of Vicente Olmos Claver has allowed us to corroborate that his music is currently kept duly catalogued in two Valencian archives: the archive of the Catedral Metropolitana of Valencia (RISM library siglum: E-VAc) and the archive of the Santa Iglesia Catedral of Segorbe (RISM library siglum: E-SEG; CLIMENT 1979 and 1984). The Valencia Cathedral archive holds five compositions: a Psalm and four Lamentations in five shelfmarks on which we have worked extensively in our studies mentioned above (MARZAL 2013 and 2019). The archive of Segorbe Cathedral holds 48 compositions by Vicente Olmos which we have also dealt with extensively in the same previous works.

Indeed, the archive of Segorbe preserves twelve liturgical compositions; six Psalms, one Verse, two Lamentations, one Mass, one "Magnificat" and the Completas. Moreover, it holds all the output of paraliturgical music by our author, specifically 36 liturgical villancicos, a “Quatro”, the "Misterios" and an Aria â Duo composed especially for the feast of the Santísima Trinidad. There is no doubt that in Vicente Olmos's paraliturgical production, liturgical villancicos predominate, which we will often find grouped in series of four compositions for each shelfmark. All in all, we can say that, at present, we have in these archives 53 musical compositions by our author. 

To conclude, we must point out that it has not been our purpose in this brief review to go into stylistic matters in depth, but rather to outline the creative career of a Valencian chapel master whose contribution to Spanish music will undoubtedly be valued by future generations. All the research on Vicente Olmos Claver is included both in our PhD thesis (MARZAL 2013) and in the recent publication La música de Vicent Olmos i Claver (MARZAL 2019). In both works we will find numerous unpublished documentary sources about the author.


FOOTNOTES

[1] (ACV): 2796 Música y músicos, Volumen 1631. Libro de salarios y nombramiento de Capellanes cantores y de músicos de 1605 a 1810, (s.f.r.). Document from the year 1754.

[2] Loc. Cit., f. 196, document from the year 1762.

[3] (ACS): PM 22/1. 

[4] (ACS): PM 22/6.

[5] Vid. (MARZAL 2019, 117 ss.).

[6] Op. cit. p. 119.

[7] Libro de actos capitulares, núm. 1.117: (27-10-1779).

[8] Libro de actos capitulares, núm. 1.117: (2-3-1780).

[9] Libro de actos capitulares, núm. 1.117: (25-7-1780).

[10] Libro de actos capitulares, núm. 1.117: (8-9-1780). 

[11] Cfr. (LAIRÓN 2001a and 2001b).

[12] (BAMV): Libro de Profesiones del monasterio de Nuestra Señora de la Murta, años 1698-1832.

[13] (ARV), sección Clero, Libro de Misas celebradas por su Capellanía, libro núm. 2828, (s.f.r.).


ABBREVIATIONS AND DOCUMENTS

ACV: Archivo de la Catedral Metropolitana de Valencia.

ARV: Archivo del Reino de Valencia.

BAMV: Biblioteca Ateneo Mercantil de Valencia

PM: Score [Partitura Musical]

(ACV): 2796 Música y músicos, Volumen 1631. Libro de salarios y nombramiento de Capellanes cantores y de músicos de 1605 a 1810.

(ARV), sección Clero, Libro de Misas celebradas por su Capellanía, libro núm. 2828.

(BAMV): Libro de Profesiones del monasterio de Nuestra Señora de la Murta, años 1698-1832.

Libro de actos capitulares, núm. 1.117 (ARV), sección Clero, Libro de actos capitulares del  monasterio  de  Nuestra  Señora  de  la Murta, 1661- 1782, libro núm. 1.117, fols. 1 r.-252 v.

Libro de actos capitulares, núm. 933 (ARV), sección Clero, Libro de actos capitulares  del  monasterio  de  Nuestra  Señora  de  la Murta, 1782- 1835, libro núm. 933. fols 1 r. – 167 v. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY

CLIMENT (1979): J. Climent Barber, Fondos Musicales de la Región Valenciana I. Catedral Metropolitana de Valencia, Instituto de Musicología “Institución Alfonso el Magnánimo”, Diputación Provincial de Valencia, Valencia.

CLIMENT (1984): J. Climent Barber, Fondos Musicales de la Región Valenciana III. Catedral de  Segorbe, Publicaciones de la Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad de Segorbe, Segorbe.

LAIRÓN (2001a): A. J. Lairón Pla, El monasterio de Nuestra Señora de la Murta de Alzira (1552-1835). Estudio Histórico-Diplomático a través de las actas capitulares, Tesis doctoral, Tomo III (actas capitulares 1661-1782), Universitat de València, Facultat de Geografía i Història, València.

LAIRÓN (2001b): A. J. Lairón Pla, El monasterio de Nuestra Señora de la Murta de Alzira (1552-1835). Estudio Histórico-Diplomático a través de las actas capitulares, Tomo IV (actas capitulares 1782-1835), Tesis doctoral, Universitat de València, Facultat de Geografía i Història, València.

MARZAL (2013): A. Marzal Raga, La música de Vicent Olmos i Claver i el seu magisteri a les capelles musicals valencianes del segle XVIII, Tesi doctoral, Toms I-II, Facultat de Geografia i Història, Universitat de València, València.

MARZAL (2019): A. Marzal Raga, La música de Vicent Olmos i Claver, Vols. I i II, Editorial Piles, València.


Image: The score of Lamentación â Solo. 2ª del miercoles. (ACV): PM 152/9, (f. 1 r.). Year: 1789. RISM ID no. 1001111577. Courtesy of the author. 

Category: New at RISM



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