Feb 022014


One of the least known Spanish classical composers is Salvador Bacarisse (1898 – 1963), despite the fact that he was a prolific composer – who wrote some really wonderful music.

Indeed, just listen to his famous Romanza (from Concert for Guitar and Orchestra) below and you will see just how good he was, at his best.  This is a gorgeous piece and deserves to be heard (along with many other pieces that he wrote!) – even if you are not wild on classical music.  Wonderful and full of ‘Spain’:

Salvador Bacarisse was from Madrid and a leading light in the Grupo de los Ocho, whose aim was to fight against musical conservatism.  An avant garde group of Spanish classical composers, they wanted to produce music more suitable to the Twentieth Century and the febrile spirit of social revolution that was occurring across western Europe.  To this end, Salvador Bacarisse was consistent with the overall philosophy that was driving surrealism and Spanish artists like Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí, all of whom were breaking away from convention.

Certainly, initially, Bacarisse’s music was notable for being polytonal and dissonant.  However, over time he changed his compositions and these became richer and more harmonious, romantic and with a recognisable Spanish flavour.  It is for these compositions that Bacarisse is probably ‘best’ known  now – not least because of his brilliant orchestration.

Of course, Bacarisse’s life was defined by the politics of Spain during the 1930’s during which he was artistic director of the Spanish Unión Radio.  He was also a member of the Alianza de Intelectuales Antifascistas para la Defensa de la Cultura (Intellectual Alliance of Anti Fascists for the Defense of Culture) an activity which would not have endeared him to General Franco.

Certainly, by the end of the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939), Salvador Bacarisse had little option other than to flee Spain.  He went to Franca and spent the rest of his life there composing futher music and working for Radio-Télévision Française, broadcasting Spanish language programmes.

Bacarisse may not be one of the greatest Spanish classical composers and is unlikely ever to be compared equally to Joaquin Rodrigo or Manual Falla. However, neither should he be dismissed – and it would be good to hear more of his music played.

Nick Snelling

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