Birth: 1481 in Prades
Death: 1553 in Poblet
Mateo Flecha was, like his nephew and namesake Mateo Flecha (ii), a Renaissance-era Spanish composer noted for his ensaladas, a sort of eclectic vocal form, usually incorporating humorous verse, with a reference to Christmas and quotations in several languages. Flecha's works, though not published in his lifetime, circulated widely in various manuscripts and are believed to have been immensely popular in Spain and other parts of Europe in the sixteenth century. Flecha also wrote sacred music and vilancicos.
Flecha was born in Prades, Spain, probably in 1481. Virtually nothing is known of his early years, though he likely came from a well-to-do family and had his first exposure to music as a choirboy. It is believed he studied with Juan Castello in the early 1500s, and it appears he was appointed to his first important musical post - Cantor at the Lerida Cathedral - in December 1522. In less than a year, he attained the prestigious position of maestro di capilla at that same cathedral.
After two years of service, he departed, probably to take on a similar post at another cathedral, perhaps in the diocese of Siguenza, where by 1533 records indicate he had made musical connections. It is known that Flecha held the post of maestro di capilla for about two years there in the late 1530s. Sources indicate that around 1533 Flecha began composing his first ensaladas. Over the course of the next decade or so, he would apparently compose all of his works in this form. Among his most popular ensaladas is La viuda, an autobiographical effort that contains references to people with whom the composer presumably had connections.
From 1544 to 1548, Flecha served, in effect, as maestro di capilla at the Arevalo Castle Chapel Infantas Maria and Juana of Castile. The composer died at the monastery in Poblet, Spain, around 1553. Though various works of Flecha were published shortly after his death, the first inclusive collection, Las ensaladas de Flecha, was published by Mateo Flecha (ii) in Prague, in 1581.
- Robert Cummings (All Music Guide)