Baltasar Jaime Martinez Compañón served as Bishop of Trujillo, Peru from 1779 to 1790 at Trujillo Cathedral. During his time in Peru, Bishop Martínez Compañón engaged in research of native customs and local music, architectural ruins and native plants and animals. He also taught the indigenous Peruvians how to make a living off of the land through farming. The bishop had a genuine interest in the people he encountered and with whom he shared the Gospel.

In order to make a study of Peru and its people, he explored the country for two years, eight months and eight days. During this time, the bishop gathered information that would later become the basis of his projects to establish new towns and schools.

Baltasar Jaime Martinez Compañón served as Bishop of Trujillo, Peru from 1779 to 1790.

When Martínez Compañón died in 1797, he left behind a codex of animals, plants and other artifacts. The codex also included an overview of the history and customs of the local people, including music. His work filled 24 boxes. Today, part of the collection is held at the Museo de América in Madrid, Spain, although the majority of it has been lost. He also sent to Spain a nine-volume set of watercolor images depicting the people, plants and animals of Trujillo. Drawn by local artisans, these 1,372 images are a unique example of vernacular natural history produced in the colonial context. The originals survive today in the library of the Royal Palace in Madrid.

While Martínez Compañón is relatively unknown, the Marin Baroque Society brought the music he composed to life in a concert on Nov. 5 at Mission San Rafael Arcangel in San Rafael. Among other Baroque pieces of the Mission period, the concert highlighted the multicultural mixings of European melodies and harmonic structure combined with indigenous rhythms and melodies of traditional Latin American music, which is prevalent in the music of the Spanish missions. In addition, the concert included music from enslaved Africans in Latin America such as music by composer Juan de Araujo.

Full story at Archdiocese of San Francisco.