BASQUE MUSIC COLLECTION, VOL. X: JUAN CRISÓSTOMO DE ARRIAGA
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Although he lived only twenty years he left a musical legacy that earned him a position among the greatest composers of his time. A child prodigy from Bilbao; he left his native Basque country early in order to mix with the avant-garde in Paris; Berlioz in particular; as if he sensed that life would leave him little time for all that he wanted to create and express. As a student of Baillot and Fétis as well as of the “old” Méhul at the Paris Conservatory; he kept his ears open in all directions and let his pen follow. Young; curious; demanding; the music that he brought to paper bore the indelible mark of this sense of artistic “urgency”.
One can only ask what would have flown from the veins of this “James Dean” of music if he had lived ten years longer… Affectionately named “the Spanish Mozart” by his contemporaries; he bequeathed us with an opera; a symphony; three string quartets (immortalized for Claves by the Sine Nomine Quartet – CD 50-9501); as well as (less well known) a whole series of vocal compositions that were written during the course of his work as assistant to Fétis at the conservatory (which may well have been the reason for his fragile health).
The Basque National Orchestra once again offers a masterful performance on “virgin grounds” for many; the tenth recording already in our series featuring music by Basque composers – truly amiable meeting and sign of friendship between two “small” nations; proud of their culture and their identity in the midst of Europe.
Arriaga would have celebrated his 200th birthday this year… if only!