He was born in Talavera de la Reina in the province of
Toledo. He spent most of his career in Seville, serving as
the maestro di capilla, though he also spent time in Burgos,
and three years in Rome at the papal chapel (1518–1521). He
died in Seville.
Music and influence
Penalosa was one of the most famous Spanish composers of the
generation before Cristóbal de Morales, and his compositions
were highly regarded at the time. Unfortunately for him, his
music was not widely distributed; he did not benefit from
the invention of printing, since he mostly remained in
Spain, away from cities such as Venice and Antwerp which
were the first centers of printed music. Later generations
of Spanish composers—Guerrero, Morales, Victoria—went to
Italy for parts of their careers, where their compositions
were printed and were as widely distributed as the music of
the Franco-Flemish composers who dominated music in Europe
in the 16th century.
Peñalosa wrote masses,
Magnificat settings, motets and hymns. Eleven secular
compositions have survived, including a ensalada (a form of
quodlibet) Por las sierras de Madrid for six voices.
Peñalosa was evidently fond
of contrapuntal puzzles and canons, as evidenced by the
quodlibet, and by the Agnus Dei of his Missa Ave Maria
peregrina, which combines a plainsong tune with a retrograde
(backwards) version of a famous secular song by Hayne van
One of his motets (Sancta
mater istud agas) was long assumed to be by Josquin des Prez,
which indicates both the stylistic similarity of their music
and the high quality of Peñalosa's.