MANUEL BLASCO DE NEBRA (1750 - 1784)
Manuel Blasco de Nebra was born in Seville in 1750 and died there in 1784. He came from a musical family and his father, the organist José Blasco de Nebra, was his first teacher. At this time Seville was in the throes of a major economic crisis, having lost its monopoly on trade with the Americas, and Manuel was therefore forced to leave his native city and try his luck elsewhere. In 1766 he travelled to Madrid, where he soon achieved renown for his amazing sight-reading abilities and for his remarkably expressive performances on the harpsichord, organ and piano, the last instrument then in its infancy. His uncle, José de Nebra, a composer of zarzuelas, was a highly respected figure at court and was able to give his nephew some help in establishing his own musical career. He died two years later, however, and, lacking financial support, Manuel had no option but to return to Seville. Once there, he carried out some of his father’s organ-playing duties at the cathedral as well as standing in from time to time for its principal organist, Juan Roldán. He gradually created a niche for himself and took over from his father as assistant organist. In addition to the intense musical life he led within the cathedral, he must also have been active in the wider artistic community, moving in the intellectual circles of men such as Count Pedro Rodríguez de Campomanes and Pablo de Olavide. Blasco de Nebra died suddenly on 12 September 1784. He was buried in Seville’s Santa Cruz Church.