European Countries

Spain Music

From the origins to the 17th century

According to, the first certain documents of Spanish musical history date back to the 6th century, a period in which the vast patrimony of the so-called Mozarabic liturgical chant was created. Important was the troubadour period of the 12th-13th century, in which the courts of Catalonia and Castile called numerous Catalan and Provençal troubadours. Alongside a progressive development of polyphony, in the 15th century. we witnessed the formation of a profane repertoire (made up of genres such as villancicos, romances, estrambotes), which probably owes its origins to the Neapolitan court due to the numerous Italianizing elements. ● The peak of Spanish musical art occurred in the 16th century. with the flowering of great polyphonic schools which had their greatest exponents in the figures of F. Guerrero, D. Ortiz, A. de Cabezón and especially TL de Victoria, the most famous of all. In parallel, a repertoire for lute and guitar developed. ● In the 17th century. there were no significant shocks in the sacred and instrumental sphere, while a series of theatrical genres developed (zarzuelas, églogas, fiestas de música y de teatro, fiestas cantadas, comedias armónicas etc.), the first example of which was the Selva sin Amor (1619) on a text by L. de Vega; while the first Spanish Baroque opera of which, at least in part, the music dates back to 1660: Celos aun del aire matan, text by P. Calderón de La Barca, music by J. Hidalgo.

From the 18th to the 19th century

With the 18th century. a long period of transition began for Spanish music, which did not bring important composers. The instrumental music of the time was dominated by the Italians D. Scarlatti and then L. Boccherini, as well as the dominance of the Italian theater (which began in 1703 with the arrival of the first Italian opera company in Madrid) was favored by the court. In opposition to the dominant Italian opera, in the 19th century. he gave life to a theatrical repertoire with a marked national imprint, taking up the genre of the zarzuela which enjoyed great success with FA Barbieri (1823-1894). ● At the same time a more popular style developed, called género chico, with F. Chueca (1846-1908), author of La gran via (1886). No less intense was the activity in the instrumental field, where among others the violinist P. de Sarasate, the pianists and composers I. Albéniz and E. Granados, the guitarists F. Sor (1778-1839, also composer) and F. Tarrega (1852-1909).

The 20th century. and subsequent developments

In the first half of the 20th century. we find the activity of M. de Falla and J. Turina who, attentive to the suggestions of French impressionism, were the authors of a profound stylistic renewal, both in the theatrical and vocal-instrumental fields. In the years following the civil war, many composers worked for a rebirth of Spanish regional music, joining the European avant-garde movement; among them in particular F. Mompou, J. Rodrigo and above all R. Gerhard (from 1939 in England), in whose work, strongly influenced by the serial experience, elements of the national tradition are nevertheless identified. Among the other composers, M. Castillo (1930-2005) and J. Villa Rojo (b.1940) deserve a mention.

Spain Music