(b Rubielos, c1650; d Valencia, 4 Nov 1706). Spanish composer. He was a choirboy at the Real Colegio del Corpus Christi in Valencia from 21 December 1657 until 8 May 1664, and taught the choirboys their dances for the Corpus Christi celebration of 1666. He was maestro at the parish church of S Andrés in Valencia and in about 1671 became maestro de capilla at Albarracín Cathedral. He returned to Valencia in 1674 as chaplain of the Colegio del Corpus Christi and his appointment as interim maestro de capilla there was confirmed on 22 June 1676. The following year he was made maestro de capilla of Valencia Cathedral. His duties were typical of those in similar positions, including conducting, composing and the instruction of choirboys; ill-health forced him to relinquish this last responsibility on 1 July 1704, and he died two years later.
Ortells was a dominant figure in Valencian music at the end of the 17th century. His skill as a composer was praised by Francesc Valls in his Respuesta … á la censura de Don Joachim Martínez (1716) and Mapa armónico (1742). His large output survives mainly in Valencia, at the cathedral and the Colegio del Corpus Christi, but works are distributed in a number of other Spanish archives (in E-Bc, E, LEc, MO, ORI, PAp and elsewhere). The Valencia Cathedral archive holds 296 works by Ortells – ten masses, eight Magnificat settings, 89 other Latin works and 189 villancicos with Castilian texts – and another 47 works are extant at the Colegio del Corpus Christi, including seven masses and four Magnificat settings. He also composed three oratorios for the Real Congregación de S Felipe Neri between 1702 and 1706, but only the texts survive (in E-VAc). Ortells was a master of the polychoral style, writing many of his pieces for eight to 12 voices divided into two or three choirs; often one choir is instrumental. He was not especially influenced by the growing interest in Italian music in Spain, but his music does show a certain harmonic daring, and his villancicos make considerable use of dance rhythms. His villancico Deliciosas auras (E-E) is for two choirs of four voices each with accompaniment parts for each choir. It is a fine example of the composer's sensitive text-setting and powerful use of chordal textures. A setting of the Lamentations for 12 voices has been published (ed. H. Eslava y Elizondo, Lira sacro-hispana, 2nd ser., i, Madrid, 1869).
V.Ripollés: Preface to El villancico i la cantata del segle XVIII a València (Barcelona, 1935), pp.v, viiiff
J.Climent: ‘La música en Valencia durante el siglo XVII’, AnM, xxi (1966), 211–41, esp. 227
J.Piedra: ‘Maestros de capilla del Real colegio de Corpus Christi (Patriarca) (1662–1822)’, AnM, xxiii (1968), 61–127, esp. 71
A.Martín Moreno: Historia de la música española, iv: Siglo XVIII (Madrid, 1985)
PAUL R. LAIRD
(b Roosendaal, North Brabant, 4 Oct 1905; dThe Hague, 6 Sept 1985). Dutch composer and pianist. By 1921 he was already studying with Wagenaar. A state scholarship enabled him to continue his composition training with Juon and Sachs at the Berlin Musikhochschule (1928–9), after which he returned to Wagenaar for one year. He was professor of piano at The Hague Royal Conservatory (1941–71) and of composition at the Amsterdam Conservatory (1949–71). In the 1930s he strived for an independent voice, dissociating himself from the then current polytonal and atonal techniques; the results of this are evident in one of his most popular compositions, the Second Symphony (Sinfonia piccola) (1940). His music is at the same time light-hearted, rather French in vein (the sonatines for piano), and dramatic and brilliant, as in the Fourth Symphony (Sinfonia concertante) for piano and orchestra (1949) with its Rachmaninoff-like expressiveness. Orthel's chamber music and songs are more economically structured, a trait that can be followed in both his sonatas for cello and piano (1925, 1958) and his important series of Rilke songs, written between 1934 and 1980.