I’ve been asked by the Euroresidente team to do a regular article on Classical Music and this is the first of what I hope will be a useful and enjoyable theme with many variations– and comments, hopefully.
What sort of music and from where? The beginning has to be Spanish music because of where you have found me. But even before that there’s this problem of definition. ‘Classical’, can be many things but mostly it means music that has some recognised form to it, some acceptance over a period of time and although it can be old or new, certainly we usually mean it has a serious rather than only an entertaining purpose. So, out with pop? Yes, I think so, but you can put me straight on this, for what we now call classical was often popular music in its own day and has got grave (no, not grey) with the years. Even so I don’t see that Elton or Robbie are for ever, the way that Haydn and Scarlatti have proved to be. So the music we shall be exploring will be the sort that may have a past and is likely to have a future.
Spain has a rich musical history, much of it distinctive to the regions that existed before Spain was an entity, or originating from a cultural tradition such as the Jewish Sephardic music of medieval times. We still have some of the texts of the mainly romantic music that came from that community, but like Moorish music of the same time, the melodies have been lost. There was no one around to write down the music as there was in the folk song revival in Britain in the early 1900’s, although more recently there have been efforts to re-imagine some of that tradition(http://www.cryptojews.com/clearing_up_ladino.htm.There have been more successful efforts to halt the decline of traditional bagpipe music in Galilicia, and Basque folk music called trikitrixa based on the accordion as performed by people such a Joseba Tapia, has survived the years.
More about the regions next time.