Bezón, Mateo

Active 1599

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Person Born Died Gender Person ID
Mateo Bezón M P0017

Instrument(s) Professional group Social status Social sphere Why is the person listed?
guitar guitarra Musician Professional Dancer Singer Instrumentalist (plucked)

Years active Place active Century Region
1599 Nápoles 16cent/3/late Naples
Biographical information

Mateo Bezón was a guitarist singer who compiled a book of guitar music with alfabeto notation in Naples in 1599. This book is held in the library of Rodrigo de Zayas in Seville. The book was compiled by Bezón and his student Antón in Naples and contains songs and dances. Many of the works are probably not by Bezón. It includes a version of Caccini’s “Amarilli mia bella”, for example. The book is problematic inasmuch as the notation impedes a deep knowledge of musical style and contents of the book. They are the common problems of other similar books in the early 17th century, especially the absence of song melodies. His method of rhytmic notation also indicates the direction of strumming.
His is the first Spanish guitarist (apart from vihuelists Mudarra and Fuenllana) whose music is conserved. As a book of strummed guitar music, this collection is only preceded by Amat’s manual. He is thus a guitarist of the same generation as Vicente Espinel and others such as Juan de Palomares. It cannot be established if he were the same Bezón who sang to the guitar at the wedding of Diego Velázquez and Juana Pacheco, as described in a romance by Seville poet Baltasar de Cepeda (reprinted in fichter1960). This needs further research to establish if there is a connection. Méndez (mendezVELA) suggests without real grounds that “Bezón” may have been a nickname. Fichter suggests that it may have been Juan Bezón, an actor at the court at the time, but there is no evidence that he ever visited Seville. Juna Bezón was the adoptive father of Francisca Bezón, known as “la Bezona” a well-documented actress singer who triumphed in Paris. Also see perezloz1990.

Related persons

Source documents
Date Document
1599 Mateo Bezón, Canzoni spagnole per chitarra.

Ref Author Item Pages
bezonDMEH Griffiths, John. “Bezón, Mateo.” Diccionario de la música española e hispanoamericana. Ed. Emilio Casares Rodicio. Madrid: Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, 1999-2002. Vol. 2.
fichter1960 Fichter, William L. “Una poesía contemporánea inédita sobre las bodas de Velázquez". Varia velazqueña: homenaje a Velazquez en el III centenario de su muerte, 1660-1960. Ed. Antonio Gallego y Burín. Madrid: Direccion General de Bellas Artes, 1960). Vol. 1, 36-39.
mendez2005 Méndez Rodríguez, Luis. Velázquez y la cultura sevillana. Seville: Universidad de Sevilla, 2005.
perezloz1990 Pérez Lozano, Manuel. “Fuentes y significado del cuadro “Cristo en casa de Marta” de Diego Velázquez”. Cuadernos de Arte e Iconografía III-6 (1990): 55-64. Online version: (accessed 7/7/2013)
zayas1987 Zayas, Rodrigo de. “Il canzoniere italo-castigliano di Mateo Bezon.” La Musica a Napoli durante il seicento: Atti de Covegno Internazionale di Studi Napoli, 11-14 aprile 1985, ed. Domenico Antonio D’Alessandro e Agostino Ziino. Roma: Edizione Torre d'Orfeo, 1987. 93-103.
zuluaga2013 Zuluaga, Daniel. “Spanish song, chitarra alla spagnola, and the Matheo Bezón and his 1599 alfabeto songbook”. Resonance: Interdisciplinary Music Journal. Spring 2013, n.p. Last consulted 4/06/2013.