Jacinto Guerrero

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Jacinto Guerrero

(1895 - 1951)

Born in Toledo (16th August 1895) to a father who was director of the city's municipal band, Jacinto Guerrero's musical training began early. After his father's death in 1904 he was enrolled as a chorister at Toledo Cathedral, where he studied with Lluis Ferré, who had been impressed with vocal compositions such as a Salve in four parts written when Jacinto was only six years old. The writing of a Hymn to Toledo won for him a grant to study at the Madrid Conservatory (1914), where he studied violin as well as harmony and composition. After a brief spell supporting himself as a café violinist, he quickly obtained a post as a second violinist in the orchestra of the Teatro de Apolo.

As early as 1919 he began writing music for the theatre, climbing rapidly to fame through a succession of three zarzuelas, La alsaciana (1921), La montería (1922) and Los gavilanes (1923) in one, two and three acts respectively. A series of highly successful works followed, amongst which El huésped del Sevillano (1926); La rosa del azafrán (1930) and La fama del tartanero (1931) are especially noteworthy. Others almost eqaully successful in their day, such as María Sol (1925), Martierra (1928) and El Ama (1933) have faded from the scene.

The composer was also active as a Madrid city councillor, and became President of the Sociedad de Autores Españoles in 1948. Madrid went into mourning after his sudden death whilst undergoing an operation on 15th August 1951; and his last zarzuela El canastillo de fresas - finished by other hands, and featuring a very young Pilar Lorengar - enjoyed a moving triumph later that year.

Guerrero also provided music for a great number of revistas as well as quantities of film music, but his zarzuelas were and are the mainstay of his reputation. His melodies are memorable, his vocal lines fluent and natural, his construction sound. His orchestration is clear, straightforward and effective. Guerrero's music may not be distinctively personal or sophisticated; but his best works live on through a winning combination of immediacy and elegant simplicity, and their continued success is well-merited. The Fundación Jacinto y Inocencio Guerrero, founded in memory of the composer and his brother, remains a proactive force for the promotion of Spanish music new and old, live and recorded.

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