Most of us with an ear for precious Spanish melodies will be familiar with Pablo de Sarasate’s gypsy airs (Zigeunerweisen); otherwise his Carmen Fantasy. The catchiness and spontaneity of these Spanish melodies brings a pause to any table talk.
Pablo Sarasate’s home town of Pamplona situated in northern Spain is best known for its annual Fiesta de San Fermin. Few of us mere mortals would care to join the crowds of thrill seekers as they race through the city’s narrow streets pursued by rampaging bulls. The city is also host to a far less dangerous but equally thrilling opportunity to enjoy the annual Pablo de Sarasate fiesta. As a composer he is feted by some of the greatest composers of Spanish music.
Born in 1844 the gifted musician was studying music by the age of five. He was introduced to music by his father, an artillery bandmaster. The pupil later received instruction more formally from a gifted and supportive music teacher. Pablo was just eight years of age when he gave his first public concert.
His performances impressed both audiences and Spanish nobility, who were quick to sponsor the talented youngster. Soon to become a firm favourite of Queen Isabel 11, his was a talent that could never be squandered. He was just twelve years old when his proud mother decided to take him to Paris to study with the acclaimed teacher Jean Alard at the Paris Conservatoire.
Heartbreak and ill fortune was to accompany the pair. Soon after crossing the French border the prodigy’s mother suffered a heart seizure and died. When her son was taken by the police to the Spanish authorities in Bayonne, Pablo was found to be suffering from the killer disease cholera.
Touched by the tragedy, and no doubt impressed by the youngster’s musical ability and connections, the Spanish consul took the grieving boy into his home until the child recovered from his illness. As soon as the youngster recovered from his dreadful illness his benefactor sent Pablo on to Paris where he was to be auditioned by Monsier Alard. The teacher quickly saw a gift to be encouraged in the youngster.
At seventeen Pablo Sarasete was to earn the coveted Premiere Prix. He had by this time won the hearts of those who had already earned acclaim in the world of great music. Works dedicated to him included Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole, Bizet’s Carmen, and Saint-Saëns' Rondo Capriccioso; another foot-stamping evocation.
Sarasate was the ultimate caballero, a gentleman of refinement, elegance and impeccable dress. During his lifetime he received thousands of love letters but ignored them all and was destined to remain a bachelor throughout his life. Despite such adulation he was the personification of chivalry. The talented and popular Sarasate kept a supply of beautiful Spanish fans in order that he might leave his many lady admirers a token of his affection and gratitude.
Sarasate loved his city's exuberant but dangerous Fiesta de San Fermin. This tumultuous event he excitedly viewed from his balcony as the scores of bulls charged through the city's narrow winding streets.
Spain gave life to this unique composer. Few were better placed that Sarasate to give Spain to the world. Maestro Pablo Sarasate died of chronic bronchitis in 1908. When visiting Pamplona do try to visit the museum dedicated to him and listen to his music. I promise you will be captivated. Country:Spain