Torrejón y Velasco, Tomás de (?–1728)

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Torrejón y Velasco, Tomás de (?–1728)

Tomás de Torrejón y Velasco (baptized 23 December 1644; d. 23 April 1728), Spanish composer active in Peru. Torrejón y Velasco may have been born in Villarrobledo, Albacete, Spain. He was the son of one of Philip IV's huntsmen and spent his childhood in Fuencarral, becoming a page in the palace of Don Pedro Fernández de Castro, the count of Lemos. Named viceroy of Peru in 1667, the count brought the twenty-three-year-old Torrejón with him to America. From 1667 until 1672 Torrejón worked in Lima's armory as superintendent and later as magistrate and chief justice of Chachapoyas Province. Torrejón's musical career in Lima started on 1 January 1676, when he was named maestro de capilla of Lima's cathedral, a position he retained until his death fifty-two years later. Lima was the center of South America's musical life at that time and Torrejón became its leading figure. To celebrate the installation of the second grand organ of the cathedral, eight polychoral villancicos composed by Torrejón were performed. His fame spread to Cuzco, Trujillo, and Guatemala, and was enhanced after the premiere of his memorial vespers for Charles II in June 1701. That same year his opera La púrpura de la rosa, with a libretto by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, was lavishly premiered at the viceroyal palace on 19 October. It had been commissioned by the new viceroy, the count of Monclova, to celebrate Philip V's eighteenth birthday. As the first operatic work written and produced in the New World, La púrpura de la rosa is of great musicological significance. It has a semimythological plot, based on the story of Venus and Adonis but with popular Spanish characters added. The vast collection of Torrejón's religious music is kept in the archives in Lima, Cuzco, and Guatemala. He died in Lima.

See alsoPeru: From the Conquest Through Independence .


Robert Stevenson, The Music of Peru (1960), and Torrejón y Velasco: La púrpura de la rosa (1976).

Gérard Béhague, Music in Latin America (1979); New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 19 (1980).

Additional Bibliography

Cardona de Gibert, Angeles, Don William Cruickshank, and Martin D. Cunningham, eds. La púrpura de la rosa. Kassel: Reichenberger, 1990.

                                      Susana Salgado

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Torrejón y Velasco, Tomás de (?–1728)

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